When we are knee deep in “popular” singers and musicians the key to longevity is elusive. Most come and go. They are good but not memorable. What are the key elements? Talent, passion, grit, persistence and above all else uniqueness. There are some secondary needs – support, publicity, intelligence and perhaps a desire for celebrity status.
Kate Bush – talent yes, passion clearly and from her work that is already well documented grit and persistence in droves. Uniqueness – she almost defines it!
Individuality is perhaps a better expression. And that perhaps is the most challenging thing in a world where one is encouraged to conform; by parents, peers and institutions. Not conforming has its risks of course but the benefits can be much greater; especially if it is combined with genuine talent. Kate Bush stands resolutely stubbornly individual. She would be true heroine in an Ayn Rand novel.
Reading about Kate Bush’s early life to date she was precocious in a good way and wilful with her sponsors – effectively so – she got her way with the choice of her first recordings and apparently even the graphics on the album covers. I will borrow a phrase from music critic Nick Coleman who writes in The Independent “she has stood firmly for artistic independence in the face of corporate will”.
She has refreshingly not sought “celebrity” status – indeed has steadfastly avoided it. Her fame is purely down to her work and talent not her lifestyle. Kate Bush’s reputation is based on her performances and her talent.
Secondary needs were provided for – support from friends and family and intelligence in abundance.
She is there now starkly in the news arising from her current live show at the Hammersmith Apollo. Sadly I have not seen it but have been struck by the reviews and by the response of people interviewed after seeing the show – effusively emotionally favourable – extraordinarily so.
Alexis Petridis writes comprehensively in “The Guardian” – she gets 5 stars from him and he concludes “Already widely acclaimed as the most influential and respected British female artist of the past 40 years, shrouded in the kind of endlessly intriguing mystique that is almost impossible to conjure in an internet age, Bush theoretically had a lot to lose by returning to the stage. Clearly, given how tightly she has controlled her own career since the early 80s, she would only have bothered because she felt she had something spectacular to offer. She was right: ‘Before The Dawn is another remarkable achievement'”
Kate Bush is described as reclusive – to me that is negatively loaded – unfairly judgemental. She had choices in her life that she stuck to resolutely – she has avoided many of the pitfalls of stardom. She seems to have applied the same resolute rules to her daily life as to her performances – she has stood firmly by her decisions. It has of course tantalised her fans and the members of the audiences many of whom were not born when she last performed. Her performances have a mystery about them like her life.
I admire her independence, objectivity, conviction and talent. She should be an inspiration to aspiring young artists especially if they have talent, passion, grit, determination and more than anything else something new.