Saturday, August 20, 2011

Kate Bush by Paula Rawsthorne (Awesome Women)

I'm very pleased today to welcome Paula Rawsthorne to my blog! Paula is the author of the really wonderful The Truth About Celia Frost, which I reviewed earlier in the week. In case you missed it, here's the official blurb:

Celia Frost is a freak. At least that's what everyone thinks. Her life is ruled by a rare disorder that means she could bleed to death from the slightest cut, confining her to a gloomy bubble of “safety”.
No friends. No fun. No life.

But the truth about Celia is more dangerous than she could ever imagine - and it's about to catch up with her.

A buried secret; a gripping manhunt; a dangerous deceit: what is the truth about Celia Frost?

If you'd like to know more about Paula Rawsthorne or The Truth About Celia Frost, please do visit the following websites:

I know that I ought to choose Mother Theresa. My mother would be pleased if I did. It would be the morally right person to choose. After all, this diminutive woman devoted her life to helping the poorest of people in the harshest of conditions. Mother Theresa was someone to look up to (or down on - she was only 4ft something) and a reminder of what I should aspire to be like in my life. But the truth is, as a teenager, it didn’t look like much fun being Mother Theresa. No, it was another woman that rocked my teenage world and still manages to inspire my devotion even now I’m forty-something. These days I regularly make my kids cringe by putting on her records and dancing around the house.

The woman who was awesome to my teenage eyes and ears, blew my mind the first time I saw her on TV. One evening, amongst all the dross of the 1979 Top of the Pops Show, appeared this incredible looking nineteen year old with wild hair and even wilder eyes, playing the piano and singing in the most unique voice I’d ever heard. Kate Bush’s performance was hypnotic as she looked down the camera lens and sang with such intensity about Heathcliff and Kathy. ‘Wow!!’ was all the eleven year old me could say. This song, ‘Wuthering Heights’, made her the first woman to have a U.K. No. 1 with a self written composition. I still like to think that, after her performance, legions of teenage girls went to read Emily Bronte’s book just to see what had inspired such passion.

I was a teen music lover with no musical talent (everyone was relieved when I gave up the violin) but I was always drawn to songwriters who were also storytellers. From an early age I was aware of the magical combination of great music and storytelling - three minute songs that created snapshots of lives and fantasies.

I was a teenager with little drama in her life but a big sense of the melodramatic! I needed passion in my world and music, books and film provided it for me. Along with other musicians, Kate Bush’s gems of songs provided a wonderful inspiration for the Drama Queen in me.

Whilst stuck in my shared bedroom with my sister, fighting over whose music should be played in the tape machine (I thought she had terrible taste, of course) I would long to triumph so I could be transported by Kate Bush’s music, my imagination running wild.

But it wasn’t just her epic, transporting songs that made me love the bones of Kate Bush, or the music videos that accompanied them that were works of art - encapsulating her vision of the story. No, as I followed her career through my teenage years I could see so much to admire about her. When many music careers were (and still are) manufactured by managers and record companies, Kate Bush has always been in control of her music and career. She’s a singer- songwriter, producer (now recording her music in a studio at home). Despite enormous demand she only ever did one live tour, a spectacular piece of theatre and music. She could have made so much money but touring wasn’t for her.

Despite being beautiful (this was a woman who even managed to look good in a lycra cat suit) with a very physical performance style, she never used her sexuality to sell. This is in contrast to many female singers who are toe-curlingly sexual in their performances and image, as if afraid that their music alone isn’t good enough to capture anyone’s attention. Even as a teenager I certainly knew which of these types of singers I felt was most empowered.

Even though Kate Bush started as a teenager, relatively powerless in the industry, she didn’t bow to pressure from record companies and spent years creating her albums. (She took twelve years before releasing her AERIAL album!!)

She’s always maintained her privacy in a world when strangers expect you to bare your soul to sell your wares. She’s an unhurried and contemplative figure in an attention deficit society. She’s never followed the crowd or the money, never given into commercial gain over her musical vision (a couple of her albums are eccentric to say the least). Now she is a mother who manages to be successful and passionate about her career whilst making her child her priority.

It’s usual to look back at your teenage obsessions and gleefully cringe at how awful they now seem in the cold light of adulthood. Believe me, I have my share of those but Kate Bush isn’t one of them. I love her now as much as when I was a teenager - maybe even more, as I can appreciate the integrity it must take to stay true to your vision in the music industry for over thirty years.

Probably due to my inner drama queen being intact, her songs affect me as powerfully now as when I was sixteen. ‘This Woman’s Work’ still brings tears to my eyes even though I’ve listened to it hundreds of times, my heart still races when I hear ‘Running up That Hill’ and I long to be twirling around on a windswept moor with Wuthering Heights playing on my iPod (only it would probably be too cold so instead, I’d listen to it indoors with a nice cup of tea).

There is something fantastically British about Kate Bush’s eccentric genius and supreme individuality. Long may she continue to make music that stirs a cauldron of emotions and allows the imagination to run wild. I intend to keep dancing around the house to her records until my children work out a way to restrain me!

Wonderful post, Paula! Thank you so much :) I didn't know all of that about Kate Bush and now have a much bigger appreciate for her integrity.


  1. What a wonderful piece. I now feel like I better understand why her fans are so devoted.

  2. Thank you so much Paula for such a fun guest post :) I've not really heard much music by Kate Bush before this, but she's certainly got an interesting sound. I really love the sound of her intregity and the way she has stood up for what she wants in terms of her music.

  3. Hi Clover,
    Thanks so much for inviting me to post about my Awesome Woman. I had fun writing about Kate Bush. She's a real individual and her music has influenced the style of female artists today like Florence and the machine. I hope people who come across her, give her wonderful music a listen. Best wishes Paula


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