Kate Anna Rusby (born 4 December 1973) is an English folk singer and songwriter from Penistone, Barnsley. Sometimes known as "The Barnsley Nightingale", she has headlined various British national folk festivals, and is one of the most noted contemporary English folk singers. In 2001 The Guardian described her as "a superstar of the British acoustic scene." In 2007 the BBC website described her as "The first lady of young folkies". She is one of the few folk singers to have been nominated for the Mercury Prize.
Rusby was born into a family of musicians in 1973 in Barnsley, England. After learning to play the guitar, the fiddle and the piano, as well as to sing, she played in many local folk festivals as a child and adolescent, before joining (and becoming the lead vocalist of) the all-female Celtic folk band the Poozies. Her breakthrough album came in 1995. A collaboration with her friend and fellow Barnsley folk singer Kathryn Roberts was simply titled Kate Rusby & Kathryn Roberts. In 1997, with the help of her family, she recorded and released her first solo album, Hourglass. Since then she has gone on to receive acclaim in her home country and abroad and her family continues to help her with all aspects of her professional career.
Rusby was also a member of the folk group Equation, later to be replaced by Cara Dillon. The early line-up also featured Rusby's erstwhile performing partner Kathryn Roberts and Mercury-nominated artist Seth Lakeman. Their first EP, In Session, had a small commercial release and lead to them signing a major record deal with WEA.
The previously unreleased song "Wandering Soul" was Rusby's contribution to the soundtrack for Billy Connolly's World Tour of New Zealand, an eight-part BBC television documentary series originally broadcast in November 2004.
A collaboration with Ronan Keating saw Rusby riding high in the UK Singles Chart; their duet "All Over Again" peaked at No. 6 in June 2006. She also made a vocal contribution to the successful debut solo album of Roddy Woomble, the lead singer of Idlewild. In the same year her cover of The Kinks' "The Village Green Preservation Society" was used as the theme tune to the BBC One television sitcom Jam & Jerusalem. Rusby has written several new songs for the latest series of Jam & Jerusalem, and is credited as being responsible for the show's music.
Launched at the 2007 Cambridge Folk Festival, the album Awkward Annie was released on 3 September 2007. "The Village Green Preservation Society" is included as a bonus track.
2008 saw the release of Sweet Bells, an album of traditional Christmas songs interpreted by Rusby.
In 2010, Rusby released the album Make the Light, a collection of self-penned songs, and in 2011 issued a second collection of Christmas songs titled While Mortals Sleep. Her third Christmas collection, "The Frost is All Over" appeared in November 2015.
In August 2001, Rusby married Scottish fiddler and fellow band member John McCusker (formerly of the Battlefield Band), who produced most of her recordings up to The Girl Who Couldn't Fly, but they subsequently divorced.
Rusby lives with her husband Damien O'Kane and her dog Doris, herself a mainstay feature of Rusby's banter during gigs and appearing on her merchandise. Their first child, a daughter Daisy Delia, was born on 15 September 2009. Kate and Damien were married on 12 June 2010. The couple's second child, named Phoebe Summer Rusby-O'Kane, was born on 30 April 2012.