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Kate Tempest on Wikipedia
Kate Tempest
Kate Tempest Way Out West 2015 (20379617120).jpg
BornKate Esther Calvert[1]
(1985-12-22) 22 December 1985 (age 31)
Brockley, South East London, England
OccupationPoet, playwright, rapper, recording artist
Notable workHopelessly Devoted, Wasted, Brand New Ancients, Everybody Down, Hold Your Own, The Bricks That Built The Houses, Let Them Eat Chaos
Musical career
GenresSpoken word, hip-hop
LabelsFiction, Big Dada, Ninja Tune

Kate Tempest (born Kate Esther Calvert, 22 December 1985) is an English poet, spoken-word artist and playwright. In 2013 she won the Ted Hughes Award for her work Brand New Ancients.[2] In 2015-16, she was a visiting fellow in the Department of English at University College London.


  • 1 Life and work
  • 2 Reception
  • 3 Discography
    • 3.1 Studio Albums
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links

Life and work

Tempest grew up in Brockley, South East London, one of five children. She describes growing up in "a shitty part of town, but in a nice house where there was always food", and developing her work ethic by seeing her father go from working as a labourer, through night-school to becoming a criminal lawyer by the time she was eight years old.[3]

She enjoyed her primary school experience but was unhappy at secondary school. She cites her English teacher Mr Bradshaw as an encouraging influence who read her early poetry and gave her books to inspire her. She says she had a "wayward youth", living in squats, "hanging around on picket lines rapping at riot cops". She worked in a record shop from age 14 to 18. She went to Thomas Tallis School, leaving at 16 to study at the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology in Croydon, going on to graduate in English Literature from Goldsmiths, University of London.[2]

She describes the London marches to call an end to the Iraq war as a point of disillusionment when she saw that the message of millions of people did not change the direction of the war.[3][4][5][6]

Tempest first performed when she was 16, at open mic nights at Deal Real, a small hip hop store on Carnaby Street in London's West End. She went on to support acts such as John Cooper Clarke, Billy Bragg, Benjamin Zephaniah and Scroobius Pip. She toured Europe, Australia and America with her band Sound of Rum and worked with organisations such as Yale University, the BBC, Apples and Snakes, the Old Vic and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Tempest has performed at venues such as Glastonbury, Latitude, The Wandering Word tent at Shambala, The Big Chill and the Nu-Yorican poetry café, where she won two poetry slams. Her first poetry book was Everything Speaks in its Own Way, followed by her first work of theatre, Wasted. At 26, she launched the theatrical spoken word piece Brand New Ancients at the Battersea Arts Centre (2012), to great critical acclaim.[3][4][5][7] The piece also won Tempest the 2013 Off West End Award ("The Offies") for "Best TBC Production". Tempest's influences include Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, W B Yeats, William Blake, W H Auden and Wu-Tang Clan.[4][5][8] At the Barbican launch of 'The Bricks that Build the Houses', Tempest explained how many people thought of Virginia Woolf when reading her work but she had never actually read much Woolf. Tempest also explained how all writers and artists are using the same material, the bubbling content of humanity, and that this causes continuities between writers, even those that have not read one another.

In 2014 she released the album Everybody Down (Big Dada), which was produced by Dan Carey and was nominated for the 2014 Mercury Prize.[9] In January 2015 the album was given the inaugural "Soundcheck Award" for the best album of 2014 by Radioeins and Der Tagesspiegel in Berlin.[10]

In September 2016 it was announced that Tempest would curate the 2017 Brighton Festival.[11]

She released the album Let Them Eat Chaos on October 7, 2016.[12] It debuted at #28 on the UK Albums Chart, and was also released in book format.[13]


The Economist said of Tempest's commission from the Royal Shakespeare Company: "A stunning piece by Kate Tempest, a London-born performance poet, comes bursting off the screen. Rarely has the relevance of Shakespeare to our language, to the very fabric of our feelings, been expressed with quite such youthful passion. (It should be mandatory viewing for all teenagers.)"[14] The Huffington Post describes her as "Britain's leading young poet, playwright and rapper...one of the most widely respected performers in the country – the complete package of lyrics and delivery. She is also one of the most exciting young writers working in Britain today" (2012).[3] The Guardian commented of Brand New Ancients, "Suddenly it feels as if we are not in a theatre but a church... gathered around a hearth, hearing the age-old stories that help us make sense of our lives. We're given the sense that what we are watching is something sacred."[15] In 2013 the newspaper noted:

She is one of the brightest talents around. Her spoken-word performances have the metre and craft of traditional poetry, the kinetic agitation of hip-hop and the intimacy of a whispered heart-to-heart... Tempest deals bravely with poverty, class and consumerism. She does so in a way that not only avoids the pitfalls of sounding trite, but manages to be beautiful too, drawing on ancient mythology and sermonic cadence to tell stories of the everyday.[16]

In 2013 she won the Ted Hughes Award for her work Brand New Ancients,[2] the first person under the age of forty to win the award,[17] and was selected as one of the 2014 Next Generation Poets by the Poetry Society.[18]

Studio Albums

  • Everybody Down (2014)
  • Let Them Eat Chaos (2016)


  1. ^ Wroe, Nicholas (4 October 2014). "Kate Tempest: 'Rapping changed my life'". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c "Kate Tempest wins Ted Hughes poetry prize for 'spoken story'", Guardian, 27 March 2013
  3. ^ a b c d Parker, Sam (12 September 2012). "Kate Tempest: 'I Want To Talk To The People Who Don't Want To Listen'". Huffington Post. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c "A life of rhyme: Kate Tempest's poetry-music fusion". The Independent. 1 March 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c "A radical overhaul for London Literature Festival". Evening Standard. 4 July 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  6. ^ "Voice on the verge". Wears the Trousers magazine. 7 October 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  7. ^ "Kate Tempest". The Old Vic. Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  8. ^ "Urban poets bring the spirit of William Blake back to the streets". Evening Standard. 12 June 2009. Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  9. ^ "Mercury Prize". 
  10. ^ Lange Von Nadine (January 16, 2015). "Kate Tempest gewinnt Soundcheck Award 2014" (in German). Spiegel. 
  11. ^ Hutchison, David (21 September 2016). "Kate Tempest named guest director of Brighton Festival 2017". The Stage. 
  12. ^ Clark, Alex (2016-10-09). "Kate Tempest: Let Them Eat Chaos review – a state-of-the-world address". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-10-20. 
  13. ^ "2017:The Year of the Wolf". Press Reader. October 19, 2016. 
  14. ^ "William Shakespeare: A digital reinvention". The Economist. 28 August 2012. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  15. ^ Gardner, Lyn (10 September 2012). "Brand New Ancients – review BAC, London". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  16. ^ "Kate Tempest: the performance poet who can't be ignored" 10 April 2013, Guardian.
  17. ^ Michael Hogan (September 14, 2014). "Kate Tempest: a winning wielder of words". The Guardian. 
  18. ^ Alison Flood (September 11, 2014). "'Next Generation' of 20 hotly-tipped poets announced by Poetry Book Society". The Guardian. 

External links

  • Official website
  • "Kate Tempest – Interview With Huey Morgan", BBC, 29 January 2012 (Video, 7 mins)
  • Royal Shakespeare Company, video featuring Tempest. Spoken word synopsis of The Merchant of Venice (Video)
  • The Spectator "Shelf Life: Kate Tempest", 12 September 2012. Interview
  • "Writing your own protest song", The Guardian Teacher Network.

Upcoming Live Shows

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Kate Tempest has 5 upcoming shows:

Fulham Palace (London, United Kingdom)Buy Tickets
Obonjan (Šibenik, Croatia)Buy Tickets
Baille Gifford Main Theatre (Edinburgh, United Kingdom)Buy Tickets
Art School Glasgow (Glasgow, United Kingdom)Buy Tickets

Further Reading

There is no further reading information at this time.

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