KT Tunstall on learning what happened to her father and discovering she has 'two beautiful sisters'
Scottish musician KT Tunstall has always known she was adopted. Growing up in St Andrews, Fife, with parents David and Rosemary Tunstall, KT describes her childhood as “pretty idyllic” and credits her family for nurturing her talents from a young age, although they weren’t musical themselves.
Adopted at 18 days old, KT was 23 when she decided to look for her biological parents and reunited with her half-Scottish, half-Chinese birth mum Carol-Ann in 1998. Sadly, she never managed to find her Irish father, John.
Next week KT puts herself in Long Lost Family’s expert hands, leaving presenter Nicky Campbell with some bittersweet news to tell the singer.
Here KT Tunstall, 44, tells TV Times more about her Long Lost Family journey…
Was it an easy decision to let Long Lost Family help you trace your father?
KT Tunstall: “When they got in touch and asked if it was something I’d be interested in, and told me about how the programme is structured in terms of assistance and the care you’re given during the process, it was kind of a no brainer. I’d found my birth mother 20 years ago but I’d gone through that on my own. I wish I’d had this support.”
Did you or your family have any worries about taking part?
KT: “I think any family is going to be worried, particularly a parent, about their kid’s wellbeing going through something potentially emotional. The unnerving part is that you have zero idea of what you’re going to find. The assurances I had from Long Lost Family made all the difference. They were only interested in a carefully supported journey, which included my family. The aftercare has been superb.”
Were you concerned about the outcome being made public?
KT: “I’m a public figure, so there’s a good possibility that it’s going to be public anyway. I was quite open in the press about being adopted, born in Edinburgh and quarter Chinese. All the clues were public and I felt surprised no one had tried to get in touch. So it was great having Long Lost Family approach me, because the last four corners of my parental history were a complete blank. I’d totally given up hope of finding anything out.”
How did you feel when you discovered your father, John, had passed away in 2002?
KT: “I’d suspected he’d passed away, so it wasn’t a massive shock, but it was disappointing. I was told he’d secretly kept a picture of me in his wallet from when I was a baby. It would have been really nice to give him a hug and let him know I knew how he felt. It’s such a relief and a joy that [John’s daughters] Lesley-Anne and Siobhan are here and I can actually talk to someone about him. It’s the best possible outcome, I feel really lucky.”
What have you learned about your father from Lesley-Anne and Siobhan?
KT: “You can tell they’re very much like him. The way they describe him – they’re so warm and smart and full of life. They’re joy seekers and that’s definitely a personality trait I feel I have. It’s been really nice learning he was a warm, loving and popular person. Apparently he was an excellent singer. That’s a very strong biological link to him for sure!”
Were they shocked to discover they have a famous big sister?
KT: “They’d no idea they had another family member, so I think it was a big shock for them. They’d seen me at T in the Park and one of my sisters had my album. When LLF got in touch they put my face against a picture of dad and realised we look the same. Draw a moustache on me and I look exactly like him! We feel very bonded already. They’re amazing, strong, smart, and fun. It’s a gift finding out I’ve two beautiful sisters.”
Long Lost Family, featuring KT Tuntstall, airs on ITV on Monday 1st July at 9pm.