Originally from Boston, U.S.A., Kai began her love affair with jazz singing in high school, singing alto and tenor parts in its jazz choir and being introduced to a huge range of styles, from early gospel and the Andrews Sisters to Bobby McFerrin. After high school, Kai went to Phoenix to study at Arizona State University, where she sang jazz with an a cappella group.
After university Kai moved to New York City, where she studied French horn for three years at the Manhattan School of Music. She became immersed in studying the masters of classical music and performed most of Gustav Mahler’s Symphonies, Beethoven and Brahms whilst being tutored by the long-standing principal horn player of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Howard T. Howard.
In New York Kai began to explore jazz options on the French horn, including attending the annual Jazz Horn Festival at the Knitting Factory in Lower Manhattan, a festival founded by Julius Watkins, where she met and performed with some of the only jazz French horn players in the world.
In 1997 Kai was offered a place at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne, to study French horn with the renowned horn professor Erich Penzel. Whilst there, Kai developed a passion for world music, especially Latin and Klezmer styles. She also took part in jam sessions and sang with the a cappella group Voicebox alongside her classical horn work, which took her on tours all over Europe.
On a visit to London in 1999, Kai met her now-husband, became a London resident and joined NYJO as its French horn player. A chance invitation to take the vocal microphone at a NYJO rehearsal kicked off her London singing career.
Now primarily established as a singer, Kai has worked with many top-calibre UK jazz musicians, including arranger/pianist Simon Whiteside, as well as pianists Mike Gorman, Alex Hutton, Kate Williams and Naadia Sheriff, bassists Dave Manington, Nick Pini, Julie Walkington and Davide Mantovani, and drummers Darren Altman and Tristan Mailliot.