KATE Bush, one of Britain’s most unique and innovative singers, was made a CBE by the Queen today and dedicated the honour to her family and musical collaborators.
From precocious teenager, whose first single Wuthering Heights was a number one, to veteran musician who released her award-winning 10th studio album in 2011, her talent has stood the test of time.
But she joked after receiving the honour that the award would now have pride of place - at the top of her Christmas tree.
Bush blazed a trail for female singers when she emerged in the late 1970s as she was a rare performer - a woman who wrote her own songs and controlled her image and career.
Her hits span more than two decades from The Man With The Child In His Eyes, Babooshka and Running Up That Hill to Rocket Man and King Of The Mountain.
And over the years the 54-year-old musician has recorded with a host of artists like Prince, Peter Gabriel, Elton John and Eric Clapton.
The singer guards her privacy closely and has shunned celebrity hangouts and parties for much of her career and rarely gives interviews.
She declined to speak to the waiting press after being made a CBE by the Queen during a Windsor Castle investiture ceremony but issued a short statement.
Bush, who was dressed in dark flowing robes, said: “I feel incredibly thrilled to receive this honour which I share with my family, friends and fellow musicians and everyone who has been such an important part of it all.
“Now I’ve got something really special to put on top of the Christmas tree.”
The singer has influenced a number of today’s artists from acts as diverse as trip-hop singer Tricky to rock band Muse.
Bush’s precocious musical talent was spotted while she was still at school.
After coming to the attention of Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, she landed a deal with EMI at the age of just 16 although she was 19 by the time she released her first album The Kick Inside in 1978.
Her debut single Wuthering Heights - released at her insistence - sparked a furious period of activity and she quickly recorded a follow-up album, Lionheart, which was out before the end of the year. She staged her one and only tour in 1979.
Bush’s 1985 album The Hounds Of Love is often seen as a career high and included one of her best-known songs, Running Up That Hill.
From then on, her releases were ever more sporadic and when she released her eighth album Aerial in 2005, it was her first for 12 years.
Much of that intervening period had been devoted to bringing up her son Bertie with her husband, guitarist Danny McIntosh, as well as slowly perfecting her songs.
The album included typically quirky subject matter with references to Citizen Kane and the mathematical constant pi.
The singer was in prolific form in 2011 releasing not only an album of reworked songs from earlier in her career, called Director’s Cut, but also an album of new tracks entitled 50 Words For Snow.
She has often been irritated that she has been seen as a recluse for her long periods away from the public eye, and her efforts to maintain her privacy.
In one interview she said: “I suppose I do think I go out of my way to be a very normal person and I just find it frustrating that people think that I’m some kind of weirdo reclusive that never comes out into the world.”