Kay is a fourth generation Oregonian, raised in the Portland area. She started singing when she was five years old, and began piano lessons when she was ten. She sang in school choirs from primary school through university, and played percussion, bass clarinet and tenor saxophone in her high school bands. Kay began private vocal studies at the age of sixteen and continued working with a variety of coaches in different disciplines for twenty years.
Kay began teaching privately in 1996 and coaching became a formal part of her duties at The Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2003. Her experience singing in the rehearsal halls, performance spaces and outdoor venues under a variety of conditions became very useful to actors who were new to the Rogue Valley.