Kate Westbrook was born in Britain but spent much of her childhood and early adult life in North America. She studied Fine Art at University. The first solo show of her paintings was at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California, in 1965. On returning to the UK she continued to exhibit her work and she taught at Leeds College of Art, at that time in the forefront of experimental theatre and performance art.
Kate's musical career began in the mid '70s when she joined the Mike Westbrook Brass Band, and gave up teaching to concentrate on the dual career of painter and musician.
Kate has toured widely throughout the UK and Europe, and as far afield as Canada, Australia and the Far East. She has broadcast on radio and TV and has recorded more than 30 albums. Her vocal range embraces Contemporary Music, Opera, Cabaret, as well as Jazz and Popular Song. As a lyricist and songwriter she has worked with composers in the worlds of jazz and contemporary music, notably with her group The Skirmishers in the album Cuff Clout, a neoteric music-hall. Kate works with the contemporary classical group Lavolta, with The Uncommon Orchestra, The Westbrook Blake and with Westbrook & Company in Paintbox Jane, a jazz cabaret about the painter Raoul Dufy. Kate has formed a new 7–piece group, The Granite Band to record and perform her latest work, GRANITE, inspired by Dartmoor and its granite quarries.
In December 2012 Kate Westbrook was approached by musician / composer Laura Cole who was contacting female artists to ask of their experiences working in the UK music industry. Her question and Kate's reply is reproduced here.
Michael Finnissy's 'TheTransgressive Gospel'
"The emotional heart of the piece is in the three settings of sacred poems by George Herbert, sung by Kate Westbrook with a combination of deep feeling and jazzy intimacy that was more moving than any impassioned outcry."
Ivan Hewitt - Daily Telgraph
"Once again, one was struck by the unique talent and incisive charm of the singer. Singer? Hardly word enough to describe an entertainer musician who knows as no-one else how to change words into notes, an all-round comedienne who uses her voice infallibly with a poetic sense of the dramatic, a multi-lingual singer (she is equally at home singing in French, German and Italian as well as English) who takes the stage with a radiant ease, much grace, humour and sensuality in all aspects of song. The exquisite Kate..."
Pascai Anquetil Monde De La Musique
CUFF CLOUT REVIEW
"British vocalist Kate Westbrook has a gift for music theater. Updating early 20th-century English music hall on Cuff Clout, Westbrook sets her witty and eccentric texts to bold and fascinating genre-crossing music composed by eight collaborators, including her bandleader husband Mike Westbrook and other Anglo jazz worthies Chris Biscoe, Lindsay Cooper and Barbara Thompson.
Maintaining a wicked edginess in her rich, limber voice, she skewers the memory of the millionaire inventor of barbed wire on "Glidden" and plumbs a gloomy, stately mood on the striking piano-and-voice ballad "My Lazy Goodheart," where her emotional timbre suggests blood ties to Marianne Faithfull. John Winfield is one hell of a lead singer, too, playing the part of a jailbird's confederate to the hilt in "Toad's Washerwoman" and wrenching cryptic meaning out of the words to "The Riddle."
Together, Westbrook and Winfield embark on a cosmic journey singing the terrifically daft "Oceans, Straits, Currents & Seas"- think Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, Lord Byron and private eye John Shaft sharing a pickle jar full of LSD.
Kate's Skirmishers band performs with a deft touch, whether sounding like an old strip joint combo on "Toad's Washerwoman" or enshrouding "One Cezanne Apple" with a Third Stream funereal air. Getting comfortable with Westbrook's "neoteric music hall" may take some work but it's worth it."
Frank-John Hadley - Downbeat