Tunstall grew up in St Andrews, a town in Fife, attending Lawhead Primary, but spending her last year of high school in New England at the Kent School, a selective preparatory school in Kent, Connecticut. She spent time performing on Church Street in Burlington, Vermont, and at a commune in rural Vermont. Tunstall studied at the High School of Dundee in Dundee, Madras College in St Andrews, Kent School in Connecticut, and at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Throughout her twenties, she mostly played in independent bands including Elia Drew and Tomoko, and focused on songwriting, as well as performing with members of the fledgling Fence Collective including work in the Skuobhie Dubh Orchestra with King Creosote, who recently supported her UK tour. She also lived with Gordon Anderson (The Beta Band and The Aliens), whom the song Funnyman, on the album Drastic Fantastic, is about.She toured with the Klezmer band Oi Va Voi, and featured on their album, Laughter Through Tears. Her debut album, Eye to the Telescope, was released in late 2004. Tunstall's style of music varies from folk to pop. In Edinburgh and St Andrews, she played in a band called Red Light Stylus, which was regarded as one of the better bands to emerge from the limited Fife scene.
Tunstall's first appearance of note was a solo performance of her famed blues song "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" on Later... with Jools Holland. The performance was notable as she had only 24 hours to prepare after scheduled performer Nas cancelled. Her performance caught the eye of many viewers, although she had previously performed it on French television only some weeks before, upstaging more established acts such as The Cure, Embrace, and The Futureheads; she then went on to top the post-show poll on the website for that episode.
Shortly after the "Later" appearance, Eye to the Telescope was re-released and shot up the UK charts, eventually peaking at #3 (on its first release it had entered at #73); it was nominated for the 2005 Mercury Music Prize. It was released in the U.S. on 7 February 2006.
Tunstall's North American break came when American Idol contestant Katharine McPhee contacted her asking to use "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" as her choice for a Billboard-themed week. At the time, the song was #79 on the Billboard charts. Tunstall had not been shy with her opinions regarding shows like Idol saying "The major problem I have is that it's completely controlled... they're told what to say. They're told how to sing." She chose to license the song as she felt that "no one on that show told Katharine McPhee to sing my song because no one knew it" Tunstall's belief was correct - the song was suggested to McPhee by Billboard columnist and author Fred Bronson. The song immediately jumped to #23 on the Billboard charts the week following McPhee's performance. She has later said "My status as a musician in America is pretty much cemented by Katharine McPhee, which is really interesting and funny for me because I've never been polite about how I feel about shows like that."
Tunstall released a new acoustic album in May 2006, KT Tunstall's Acoustic Extravaganza, which was first only available via mail order from her website. The album was re-released in stores worldwide in October 2006.
Tunstall sang with Scottish band Travis on their 2007 album "The Boy With No Name", on the track "Under The Moonlight", a song written by Susie Hug (late of Katydids).
Tunstall's third album, Drastic Fantastic, premiered on 3 September 2007 in Scotland, followed a week later on 10 September 2007 with the London release for the UK and 18 September 2007, in the US. In its first week, Drastic Fantastic reached #1 on the Scottish Album Charts, #3 on the UK Charts, and #9 on the U.S. Charts.
On 5 October, Target in association with NBC, released a special KT Tunstall Christmas album with 6 exclusive tracks:
In October, she will be touring in Brazil. She'll go to São Paulo on 15.
Tunstall is known for her live performances, in which she combines use of an Akai E2 Headrush loop pedal, which she affectionately calls "Wee Bastard", with a full four-piece backing band (Luke Bullen on drums, Arnulf Linder on bass, Sam Lewis on lead guitar and Kenny Dickinson on the keyboard, the trumpet and other various instruments) , as well as her two backup singers (Cat Sforza and Ami Richardson)
Similar to her initial debut on music show Later... with Jools Holland, Tunstall first debuted in the United States performing on various talk shows, although it wasn't until The Ellen DeGeneres Show that she was interviewed. Since her talk show days, she has performed at numerous large concerts such as the Hogmanay Edinburgh Concert in 2005, the American leg of Live Earth in 2007, and the Nobel Peace Prize Concert also in 2007. Tunstall said prior to the Hogmanay performance that "This is the gig of a lifetime... This Hogmanay party is probably the best-known and best-loved in the world, and I've been here a few times over the years dreaming of being the one entertaining the crowds. Until we're on that stage I won't believe we're allowed on it.
Excerpts from other tracks were subsequently used in Ugly Betty, Grey's Anatomy, and Will & Grace. The singer's breakthrough hit "Suddenly I See" was used in the opening scene of the 2006 fashion satire The Devil Wears Prada.
"Suddenly I See" was also used as a backing track on the second series of American dance competition show So You Think You Can Dance and was featured in the September 2007 Next television advert 'Ali's Party'.
"Suddenly I See" was also used in the video game, "Thrillville".
In 2007 KT came into The DL Show and showcased her knowledge of Star Trek Trivia.
Tunstall sparked some controversy in 2005 when she publicly bashed singer/songwriter Dido, stating that the artist "can't fucking sing" after several fans compared the two musically. Tunstall later apologized, stating that she did not want to be involved in a public feud.
Tunstall denies rumors or assumptions that she is a lesbian by expressing gratitude to her gay and lesbian following, and says the rainbow patterned suspenders on her debut record cover were not intended as a statement of identity or politics as she was unaware of the symbolism at the time.
In April 2007, Tunstall underwent surgery to correct an undersized kidney, a problem caused by a childhood infection.
In 2003 Tunstall began dating Luke Bullen, the drummer in her band. On Christmas Day, 2007, Bullen proposed to KT at her parents' home in St Andrews, Scotland, and the couple were married on 6 September 2008 at the Flodigarry Country House Hotel on the Isle Of Skye in Scotland.
|UK||U.S.||U.S. Pop||U.S. AC||U.S. Adult Top 40||U.S. Digital||Italy||CAN||IRL||ARIA Singles Chart|
|2004||"Throw Me a Rope"||Stand-alone release||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|"False Alarm" (EP)||Eye to the Telescope||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|2005||"Black Horse and the Cherry Tree"||28||20||22||4||1||9||10||22||16||-|
|"Other Side of the World"||13||-||-||-||19||-||22||-||25||-|
|"Suddenly I See"||12||21||21||10||5||14||36||33||25||6|
|"Under the Weather"||39||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|2006||"Another Place to Fall"||52||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|"Ashes" (Promo Only)||Acoustic Extravaganza||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|2007||"Hold On"||''Drastic Fantastic||21||104||95||-||27||-||19||46||41||-|
|"Saving My Face"||50||-||-||-||-||-||23||-||-||-|
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Apr 12, 2008; OK, so it's a little crass - and arguably sexist - to lump musicians together just because they're all female and Scottish, but...