Kathleen Mary Ferrier, CBE (22 April 1912 – 8 October 1953) was an English contralto singer who achieved an international reputation as a stage, concert and recording artist. Her death from cancer, at the height of her fame, was a shock to the musical world.
Ferrier did not take up singing seriously until 1937, when after winning a prestigious singing competition at the Carlisle Festival she began to receive offers of professional engagements as a vocalist. After the outbreak of the Second World War Ferrier was recruited by the Council for the Encouragement of [Music and] the Arts (CEMA), and in the following years became a regular performer at leading London and provincial venues, and made numerous BBC radio broadcasts.
As her reputation grew, Ferrier formed close working relationships with major musical figures, including Benjamin Britten, Sir John Barbirolli, Bruno Walter and the accompanist Gerald Moore. She became known internationally through her three tours to the United States between 1948 and 1950 and her many visits to continental Europe.