Kate Ward was entranced by music at the tender age of three; where she was found in the garden of her family home, ear pressed hard up against the gap between the wooden boards of the garden fence. Kate was straining to capture every note of a guitar being played several neighbours away. After pleading with her mother to know more, she was dropped off at the said neighbours home, only to stand inches away from the guitar, listening intently – the love of music was trapped forever within the little girl’s soul. Kate took responsibility of her first guitar at the tender age of five and by seven she undertook guitar tuition, later studying classical guitar at the London College of Music.
During her teens and twenties Kate branched out from classical guitar and was strongly influenced by the finger picking style of Stefan Grossman. She joined a Celtic band in the 80’s and performed at local folk clubs in Kent. Kate went on to open for ‘The Arizona Smoke Review’ a USA bluegrass band and English acoustic guitarist, Gordon Giltrap.
After moving to New Zealand for work in 2004 time for music became scarce, until Kate joined Celtic singer Yvonne Butterfield in 2009 and formed the duo “Just Us”, recording a CD of the same name. Kate and Yvonne performed in cafes and folk clubs until Yvonne departed for England in 2012.
Kate then joined forces with Bill Nicholson and together they formed the duo “String Fusion”. Kate & Bill have recorded three albums over the past five years. Kate also performs with female duo “Tudor Rose” with Jane Egan, both of these duo’s are still performing regularly around the Manawatu. Kate also performs solo and was privileged to open for Paul Ubana Jones in 2016.
In late 2016, Kate met Gill Allen, a local singer songwriter. After only 30 minutes of talking they were both inspired to meet again to investigate if their musical abilities and voices would work together… after discovering some beautiful harmonies and a humorous duality, they formed the duo “Wandrella” (formerly nicknamed “Growing out the Bob”) in 2017. Kate & Gill have plans to perform and record both covers and their own original songs over the coming years.
In 2017, Kate was awarded runner up at the Aotearoa Country Music Awards for her Original Song composition “Leaving Behind”. Alongside Kate’s precision and emotive guitar playing is her enjoyment of both banjo and mandolin. Kate continues to write her own beautiful songs and is the backbone of her musical collaborations, and acknowledged for her skilful and inspiring musicality.
Below – Kate sings her tribute to Glen Campbell…