Kate Rusby's career in music began at the Holmfirth Folk Festival more than 25 years ago.
Today, the award-winning singer from Barnsley is widely recognised as the foremost female folk singer of her age.
On Saturday, December 20, as part of her Christmas With Kate Rusby nationwide tour, the Yorkshire songbird will stop off at Huddersfield Town Hall.
Kate, who has just celebrated her 41st birthday, has long been admired for her soulful vocals, but she is also an accomplished musician, playing the guitar, piano and fiddle. She writes much of her own material and puts new music to old songs.
The Christmas show is a hardy annual that gives audiences a taste of what she can do with familiar carols and Yorkshire-inspired festive songs – all taken from her two Christmas albums. This year she will also play a selection from her new album Ghost – her first album of all-original material since 2010.
While Ghost is most definitely a work of acoustic folk, Kate has adopted a fresh approach to recording her 11th solo album, which has sparser musical arrangements to allow the clarity of her voice to shine through. However, in order to achieve the crispness and definition that she wanted Kate has surrounded herself with 15 accomplished musicians.
In fact, Kate, who is married to guitarist Damien O’Kane, has always been surrounded by musicians – it’s how she came to be a singer in the first place. Raised by folk enthusiasts, Steve and Ann, who had their own ceilidh band, perhaps it was inevitable that the young Kate would succumb to the charms of traditional folk.
She recalls that from early childhood, when she and her siblings Joe and Emma were being driven to folk festivals, the family would sing together to while away the long car journeys. The children were making up harmonies long before they knew what the word meant. Now her own two young daughters are being raised in the folk tradition.
Kate, however, admits that she had little in the way of formal music education – apart from violin lessons from the age of seven – and is mostly self taught.
Her first public performance was at the aforementioned Holmfirth Folk Festival at the age of 15. By 19 she was providing the vocals for an album by the Battlefield Band.
Her solo career took off with her first album, Hourglass, back in 1997, and since then she has released one critically-acclaimed album after another. It’s said that Kate’s strength is the way she can take an old song or ballad, re-write the music and make it sound as if it had been in existence for generations.
Tickets for Kate’s Christmas concert at the town hall (7.30pm) are £12 and £24 from 01484 223200 or www.kirkleestownhalls.co.uk