Kate Smith is an artist whose career has been defined by the journey, traversing both continents and creative fields. A classically trained singer, she received a Graduate Certificate in Classical Voice and an MMus in Leadership from Guildhall School of Music and Drama (2017), followed by a Fellowship (2018). She originally studied film at Columbia University (2009), as well as Mandarin at Tsinghua University (2012) and worked for several years in both New York and Beijing as a bi-lingual video producer.
Based in London since 2014, Kate’s practice centres around her passion for bringing the voice and the body into dialogue with ideas around expression, community, and well-being. Out of research begun at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, she has created a practice called The Embodied Voice (EV), which brings together mindfulness, improvisation, movement, and voice. Kate regularly teaches drop-in classes on The Embodied Voice at the Big Wheel Theatre in Exmouth Market, as well as leads workshops around the UK for a variety of clients, including the Whitechapel Gallery, Guildhall Drama Department, Making Tracks (Found Sound Nation) and more. She is Artistic Director of THAT!, a cutting-edge vocal ensemble that creates original compositions using improvised voice and movement, and she has begun composing new music for voices and movement – currently in development. Kate also provides creative consultancy, with clients including Cyphers’ Theatre Company and Greenwich Dance.
Kate also works as a creative music workshop leader, having lead and supported projects in a range of contexts including in hospitals, mental health centres, primary schools, festivals, and residential intensives. She has worked with young adults with learning disabilities, people experiencing homelessness, and those with mental health issues, working for employers including Aldeburgh Young Musicians, BBC Creative Learning, South West Music School, Create, and the Barbican. Kate also leads the inter-generational community choir Hackney One Voice, and teaches singing at City and Islington Sixth Form College.
As a performer, Kate specialises in contemporary music theatre – often involving complex a cappella singing, movement, and improvisation. She has collaborated on several projects with Convex (site-specific promenade sound-art and live choral singing), sang the role of Despina in Cosi Fan Tutti, the Remake (T.Art Productions, 2019), and the role of Cinderella in the singer-instrumentalist production of Thousand Furs (Re:Sound, 2015). Kate is an ensemble member of Verity Standen’s production Undersong which will be touring New York and the UK in 2020. Kate is a regular collaborator and has created a range of new work with various musicians and composers, including promenade choral theatre (Antichorus, 2016), sound/video installation (You Can (Not) Return, 2016), alternative-Americana (Sister Kate, 2015), dance theatre (Dreamtime Before Banishment, 2015), and more.
Kate also dedicates part of her time to running Curiosa, a company that aims to bring people together across arts and cultures by providing arts and music-based workshops, residencies and retreats. Projects include Other Lands Other Sounds (Portugal, 2017-2019), a residential course focusing on cross-disciplinary collaboration, and Create & Connect (Portugal, 2019), a music and well-being retreat. Kate’s interest in this field grew out of her early experiences as a participant and administrator to the International Vocal Arts Workshop in Groznjan, Croatia (2008-2012). In 2015 she co-produced her first international workshop, Compass World Arts World Music and Dance Workshop in Dali, China (2015), which was followed by The Makers’ Collective artists’ residency in Gois, Portugal (2016).
New York and Beijing
Prior to moving to London, Kate balanced her creative pursuits with a career as a video and film producer. Kate began producing her own meticulously researched historical cabarets in New York, starting with Lolo and the Midnight Cabaret (New York, 2011), an event which put her on the road to becoming “the singing madame” of Beijing’s cabaret scene (Global Times). After moving to China in 2012, she began singing with Moonglow Burlesque troupe, as well as forming an oldies vocal harmony band with Lulu Ye, The Confectionaires. In 2013, Kate returned to creating her own immersive cabarets, including Weimar-era Vamps.Vixens.Weimar, Shanghai-1920s-era Siren.Seductress.Shanghai, and turn-of-the-century impressionist-inspired Songs from the Labyrinth. While in China, Kate sang and toured the country with a range of bands, including country music bands Honky Tonk Angels and Randy Abel Stable, and indie-pop band, The Contraplans. Kate also performed her own arrangements of American folk music and delivered workshops on the subject at Chinese universities and museums.
Prior to her move to China, Kate was involved in a range of projects; she created and animated puppets for several productions, and created an original puppet musical for Puppet Playlist (2011). A fan of world and folk music, she was president of New York’s Worldmuse Ensemble (2008), interned at the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library (2008), and formed a Shapenote ensemble, Ironworks. She also played accordion in an activist street marching band, Rude Mechanical Orchestra.