Catherine Bush was born on July 30, 1958 in Bexleyheath, Kent, England. Her parents, Robert and Hannah Bush, were a doctor and a nurse by profession, although Kate’s father was a skilled pianist and her mother was a prize-winning dancer. Kate grew up with two older brothers, John and Paddy, who included her in their games. “They’d always end up tying me to a tree or something,” recalls Kate. Kate’s brothers’ love of English folk music had a great influence on the young girl, and the siblings collaborated once Kate’s music career took off.
As a teen, Kate attended St. Joseph’s convent school in Abby Wood, South East London. Feeling alienated from her peers, Kate wrote scores of songs, and was discovered and mentored by David Gilmour of Pink Floyd. Gilmour helped fund Kate’s first demo sessions, and at 16, Kate signed with EMI Records. But Kate’s major-label debut would gestate for over two years, during which time Kate finished school, took lessons in dance, mime, and music, and performed in small venues in the London area.
In 1978, Kate Bush’s first album, The Kick Inside, was released, and it spawned the international hit single “Wuthering Heights.” Famous overnight, Kate became the first woman to reach No. 1 in the United Kingdom with a song she wrote herself. Kate rushed a second album into release, 1978’s Lionheart, although she later regretted her haste; she also went on tour for the first and last time in the spring of 1979.
The 1980s marked the crystallization of Kate’s musical modus operandi. She worked on her records out of the public eye, generating wild speculation about her appearance and her mental state. But fans soon got used to the hiatuses — sometimes spanning years between albums. In 1980, Kate released Never For Ever, becoming the first female Briton to have a record reach No. 1. Never For Ever was followed by The Dreaming (1982), the first album Kate produced herself. By the time of Hounds of Love (1985), Kate had built her own recording studio near her home, and her songs became more personal — a trend that continued on the album The Sensual World (1989).
In 1992, Kate’s mother died while she was working on her seventh album, The Red Shoes (1993). Afterward, Kate stayed out of the public eye even longer than usual — for the rest of the 1990s, in fact. In July 1998, she gave birth to her son Albert, or “Bertie,” fathered by her longtime partner, guitarist Danny McIntosh. It was two years before the press even found out about the birth.
Kate, meanwhile, was too busy providing a “normal” home life for her son to work more than sporadically. Still, she did make the odd appearance: Kate took home a 2001 Best Classic Songwriter Q Magazine Award and a 2002 Ivor Novello Award. She also made her first live performance in years in early 2002, as the special guest of her old mentor, David Gilmour.
After a 12-year drought, Kate finally released her eighth record, the double album Aerial, in late 2005. Featuring the single “King of the Mountain,” Aerial sold over a million copies worldwide, and earned Kate two 2006 Brit Award nominations. Although it is unclear whether Kate will do more to promote Aerial, she has signaled that she will keep writing and recording music — it just might be a bit of a wait until the next album.