My Yorkshire: Kate Rusby

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Singer-songwriter Kate Rusby was born and brought up in Barnsley. She and her family are organising their second Underneath the Stars music festival at Cannon Hall Farm this summer.

What’s your first Yorkshire memory?

Playing outside our house in Oxspring, near Barnsley. We practically lived outside, still do really. I remember running in the fields and walking our little staffy called Bell, watching hares boxing and hearing the larks. It was a brilliant place to be a child. Today, we have our recording studio next to those very same fields. I walk my own little staffy, Doris, there between takes and stand exactly where I used to stand to watch and listen to the larks. It’s a really inspiring place.

What’s your favourite part of the county and why?

Here, just outside Barnsley on the edge of the Pennines. One of the reasons we started the Underneath the Stars festival was to show people from all over the country just how gorgeous it is around here. When I travel around I always invite them to come and see my part of the world. And when they do, they are astounded. People think of South Yorkshire as industrial and a bit mucky round the edges, but it’s not at all, it’s some of the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen, and I’ve travelled all over the world.

Do you have a favourite walk – or view?

I do, the view from my dad’s allotment is a sight for sore eyes, you can see all around the valley. A good bit of digging in there surrounded by the blackbirds and thrushes cures even the worst hangover. I have even heard cuckoos there.

What’s your idea of a perfect day, or perfect weekend, in out in Yorkshire?

Well, of course, we hope Underneath the Stars is going to become a key weekend event on Yorkshire’s cultural calendar. I’ve been touring for 22 years now and played countless festivals across the globe, always thinking it would be lovely to have one in Yorkshire. We finally got it off the ground last year and it was gorgeous. This year’s line-up will again feature lots of the music we love from people like Mary Chapin Carpenter, Eddi Reader, Philip Selway from Radiohead and Damien O’Kane.

Which Yorkshire sportsman, past or present, would you like to take for lunch?

That would have to be my nephew Joshua Holling, he is an incredibly talented left arm fast bowler and is attracting lots of attention training with MCC, while at university in Cardiff. When he is home, he plays for Pudsey Congs cricket club.

Which Yorkshire stage or screen star, past or present, would you like to take for dinner?

I would take my old friend Shaun Dooley. He is fantastic actor. You’ll have seen him in all sorts on the telly including my recent favourite, series two of Broadchurch. He was amazing in that. We met when we both did a BTEC in performing arts at the Electric Theatre in Barnsley. He’s one of those lovely, genuine, gentle souls that stays true to his roots and family, a real Yorkshire gent and an official patron of Yorkshire too.

What do you think gives Yorkshire its unique identity?

The sound of a colliery brass band. I come from mining stock and it is the most moving, proud, heart breaking, achingly beautiful sound that exists. It can’t fail to stir the soul. A brass quintet comes on tour with us at Christmas and the songs we play are mainly local carols from South Yorkshire, the brass on them fits hand in glove, but I have to be so careful because they make me cry on a regular basis.

If you had to name your Yorkshire hidden gem, what would it be?

Not so much a hidden gem but a definite treasure – proper Yorkshire Tea. I never drink any other brew and take boxes of it on tour. You can’t beat it.

Do you follow sport in the county, and if so, what?

We love cricket in our family and have been involved in the local club in Cawthorne for years. My nephew now plays for them, my sister does the teas, my dad used to play too, and my mum scores for the first team. We also support the club by drinking wine from the bar. It’s such a gorgeous ground beside a little river and the whole village congregates there on summer days.

Do you have a favourite restaurant or pub?

It’s a toss-up between The Three Acres, Emley and Mezze in Holmfirth. The former is a gorgeous bistro that never fails to produce delicious food, the latter is an intimate place that serves the tastiest Mediterranean and middle eastern tapas I’ve ever had the pleasure to sample. I adore them both.

Do you have a favourite food shop?

Cannon Hall farm shop and deli. We shop there all the time. Lots of their meat is reared on the farm and they make incredible sausages too. It’s great that people who come to the festival will be able to stock up on tasty eatables to take home.

Who is the Yorkshire person you most admire?

Can I have two? If so, then I choose my parents, they have been through a great deal healthwise over the last three years, but yet they remain supportive of us all, the record company, festival, grandchildren. They are both made of tough stuff, well of course they are, they’re from Yorkshire. I love them both to bits and I’m so proud of them.

If a stranger to Yorkshire only had time to visit one place, where would it be?

York. That’s always top of my ‘must-see’ list for people who haven’t been here before. People go to Oxford or Cambridge for a bit of ancient England, but for me York outstrips them both. The Minster is breathtaking and the city is the epitome of ancient beauty, it’s just glorious.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am actually working on another Christmas album. It’s definitely a bit strange singing Christmas songs in summer, but you can’t leave it all until December. Plus we’re on tour – and finalising all the lovely food, drink, artisan crafts and entertainment for our festival.

Underneath the Stars, Canon Hall, July 24 to 26.