Being a woman and a dance music artist is no mean feat; it’s a genre that’s very much dominated by men so to make a name for yourself takes persistence – and that’s exactly what Kate Ryan has. Famed for her catchy beats and beautiful vocals, she‘s a dance-pop and Eurodance artist whose influence has reached far further than the borders of her own country, Belgium.
She was lucky enough to ride the wave of popularity for Eurodance in the early 00s, alongside such artists as Cascada and Love Inc and her infectious brand of dance pop has lost none of its appeal with age; her tracks still feature in DJ sets and playlists around the world.
Even in the USA Ryan found fame, despite many mainstream audiences being turned off anything that sounded remotely like disco for many years. Europop barely broke into the mainstream in North America, but many of the top European artists were popular at specialist club nights and in radio mixes.
A career in the spotlight has seen her releasing five studio albums and playing countless gigs and festivals, but who is Kate Ryan, where did she come from and what is she up to now?
The younger years
Despite the anglicised stage name, Kate Ryan was in fact born Katrien Verbeeck in Belgium in 1980, and with music around her from a young age it was little surprise when she went into the music industry.
She has been playing piano and guitar since the age of eight and was taught singing and piano from an aunt who ran a musical conservatory in Belgium for young people.
As a teenager, Verbeeck often played as entertainment in clubs and bars, helping to build her reputation, and at just 16 was offered a recording contract in a manufactured pop group called Melt.
Though the band was officially together for two years, they did not release any material and Verbeeck soon met producer Andy Janssens and left the fledgeling band to write material with him and build a solo career.
Kate Ryan is born
Ryan and Janssens released their first track together in 2001, a song titled Scream For More which stormed the Belgian charts and shot Ryan to fame. A follow up, UR (My Love) was also a success, cementing the singer’s place in popular culture, but it was the third single she released – a cover of Mylene Farmer’s Désenchantée – which gained international prominence for the artist.
The track was a hit in charts all over Europe, and Ryan was snapped up by EMI who helped her to record and release a smash hit album – Different. This went on to go gold and platinum in several countries, selling a total of more than a quarter of a million copies around Europe.
Ryan was remarkable for releasing both French and English versions of some of her tracks, a move which may have dented each track’s individual chart ranking but which earned her much respect from her French-speaking fans.
After releasing another couple of successful studio albums, Kate Ryan was selected to represent the Belgian people in the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest.
A highly political affair, she was placed at #12 in the semi final stages in Athens, meaning that she was not able to compete in the final (comprised of the top ten acts) but it helped to cement her reputation as a Belgian national hero and a darling of the Belgian people, as well as an international superstar.
Where’s Kate Ryan now?
Since 2001 Ryan has released five successful studio albums, including one (French Connection) sung entirely in French. Since then, she has also committed to releasing only material she has herself written, and the modest success which her singles and albums have achieved suggest that her writing skills may be up there with her singing talent.
She also continues to perform at gigs and festivals all over the world and is available to book for all sorts of events – from a set at a club night to entertainment at an extra special birthday party. The Kate Ryan agent is London based celebrity agency MN2S, so contact them if you’re interested in making a booking.