Kate Bush PhotoBORN: July 30, 1958, Bexleyheath, Kent, England

One of the most successful and popular solo female acts of the past 20 years to come out of England, Kate Bush is also one of the most unusual, with her keening vocals and unusually literate and complex body of songs. As a girl, Catherine Bush amused herself playing an organ in the barn behind her parents' house. By the time she was a teenager, Bush was writing songs of her own. A family friend, Ricky Hopper, heard her music and arranged for a demo to be recorded, which brought Bush to the attention of Pink Floyd lead guitarist David Gilmour. By the time Bush was 16, she had signed to EMI Records, though the company made the decision to bring her along slowly. She studied dance, mime, and voice, and continued writing. By 1977, she was ready to enter the recording studio and begin her formal career, which she did with an original song, "Wuthering Heights," based on material from Emily Brontė's novel.

"Wuthering Heights" rose to number one on the British charts. Bush became an overnight sensation at the age of 17 and was obligated to turn in an accompanying album in short order. This she did with The Kick Inside, a collection of material she had written over the previous three years; the album reached number three and sold over a million copies in the UK.

Bush's second album, Lionheart, reached number six but didn't achieve anything like the sales totals or critical acclaim of its predecessor. In England during the spring of 1979, Bush embarked on what proved to be the only concert tour of her career to date, playing a series of shows highlighted by 17 costume changes, lots of dancing, and complex lighting. The tour proved both exhausting and financially disastrous, and Bush has avoided any but the most limited live concert appearances since, primarily in support of certain charitable causes.

By this time, Bush was established as one of the most challenging and eccentric artists ever to have achieved success in rock music, with a range of sounds and interests that constantly challenged listeners. "Babooshka" (1980) became her first Top Five single since "Wuthering Heights," and her subsequent album Never for Ever entered the British charts at number one in September of 1980. During this period, Bush began co-producing her own work, a decisive step toward refining her sound and also establishing her independence from her record company. Although 1982's The Dreaming reached number three, the single "There Goes a Tenner" failed to reach the charts, and most observers felt that Bush had lost her audience. Bush was unfazed by the criticism, and even began taking steps to make herself more independent of her record company by establishing a home studio.

After two years' absence, Bush re-emerged in August of 1985 with "Running Up That Hill," which reached number three on the English charts and became her second biggest-selling single. The accompanying album, Hounds of Love, the first record made at her 48-track home studio, debuted on the British charts at the number one position in September of 1985 and remained there for a full month, and soon after "Running Up That Hill" gave Bush her long-awaited American breakthrough, reaching number 30 on Billboard's charts. The changes in her sound and her development as a writer/performer were showcased in the January 1987 best-of collection The Whole Story. That same year, Bush won the Best British Female Artist award at the sixth annual BRIT Awards in London. In October of 1989, Bush's first new album in almost four years, The Sensual World, reached the British number two spot. Bush's next album, The Red Shoes (1993), debuted in the American Top 30, the first time one of her albums had ever charted that high. ~ Bruce Eder, All Music Guide