Kate Bush

Turning 41 today is Kate Bush, the British singer/songwriter whose literate art-rock compositions have influenced a number of today's popular artists, including Tori Amos and Dolores O'Riordan.

Though singer/songwriter Kate Bush is more revered in her native Britain than she is in the U.S., her influence has extended beyond her home country. Bush's high-pitched, undulating vocals and literate lyrics have been a blueprint for such '90s American rockers as Tori Amos.

Catherine Bush, the daughter of a British physician, was born 41 years ago today in Bexleyheath, England. She began playing piano at age 11 and was soon composing her own songs.

Mutual acquaintances told Pink Floyd's David Gilmour about the teen-age prodigy. Gilmour, impressed with the youthful artist's interest in the supernatural and her four-octave vocal range, helped finance the demo that got Bush signed with EMI Records.

Bush spent two years in the mid-'70s studying music, dance and mime while writing songs for her first LP. Bush's first single, "Wuthering Heights," was a smash in the U.K. and re-ignited interest in the novel of the same name by Emily Bronte -- who was born on this day in 1818. In the U.S., rising rocker Pat Benatar covered the track. Bush's debut LP album, The Kick Inside (1978), was a top-10 hit in Britain. Lionheart followed later that year.

"Babooshka" (1980) was Bush's second top-5 single in the U.K. and was followed by Never for Ever, which debuted on the British album chart at #1.

The Dreaming (1982) was self-produced by Bush, who soon constructed a home studio to record future albums. Hounds of Love (1985) spawned Bush's best-selling U.S. single, "Running Up That Hill" (RealAudio excerpt), as well as "Cloudbusting" and the popular title track. Bush began taking more time between albums, becoming a studio perfectionist who experimented with an array of musical styles including Celtic rhythms.

The Sensual World (1989) was inspired by James Joyce's "Ulysses." Her box set, This Woman's Work, was issued in 1990. Three years later came The Red Shoes, which received mixed reviews but made the top 30 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. To complement the LP, Bush issued a 50-minute film that she wrote and directed. She also starred in it with actress Miranda Richardson and performance artist/mime Lindsay Kemp.

Last year's I Wanna Be Kate: The Songs of Kate Bush evidenced Bush's influence on younger performers. The LP featured a number of Chicago-based musicians, such as Syd Straw and Poi Dog Pondering's Susan Voelz, interpreting Bush's work. Also included on the collection are efforts from such pop bands as the Aluminum Group and the Moviegoers, as well as Mouse, the Baltimores, My Scarlet Life and the Plunging Necklines.

Bush is reportedly working on a new album.

Other birthdays: Buddy Guy, 63; Paul Anka, 58; David Sanborn, 54; Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond (Jethro Tull), 53; Andy Scott (Sweet), 50; Rat Scabies (the Damned), 42.