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Tori Amos

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Tori Amos
Tori Amos at a concert in Berlin in 2007
Tori Amos at a concert in Berlin in 2007
Background information
Birth nameMyra Ellen Amos
Born (1963-08-22) August 22, 1963 (age 60)
Catawba County, North Carolina, United States
GenresPiano rock, art pop, alternative rock, electronica, classical
Occupation(s)Musician, vocalist, songwriter, record producer
InstrumentsPiano, harpsichord, clavichord, Hammond organ, harmonium, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Kurzweil, clavinet, vocals
Years active1979–present
Universal Republic
Deutsche Grammophon

Myra Ellen "Tori" Amos (born August 22, 1963) is an American singer and songwriter. She has won many awards for her music. Tori Amos sings in the mezzo-soprano range.[1][2]

She was born in Catawba County, North Carolina. Her father, Edison Amos, is a Methodist minister. She claims her mother, Mary Ellen Amos, is part Cherokee Indian. Her grandfather, Calvin Clinton Copeland, was very important to her as a child. The things he taught her continue to be important to her as an adult.

Early life[change | change source]

Tori Amos was a talented child. She was able to play piano at the age of two and a half years. When she was two, her family moved to Baltimore, Maryland. When she was five years old, she was already writing her own songs on the piano. At age five she won a scholarship to an important music school called the Peabody Conservatory of Music. Tori enjoyed writing her own music and making songs up. She did not like playing music that was written by other people as much as she liked playing her own music. Because of this, they took her scholarship away at the age of eleven.

When Tori was 14, she began singing and playing piano at bars. Her father came with her to make sure she was safe. She won a singing contest by singing a song she wrote called "More Than Just a Friend". When she was 18, Tori recorded her first song. It was called "Baltimore." The song was entered into a contest being held by the Baltimore Orioles, a baseball team. Tori won the contest. The song was released on a 7" vinyl record. The song on the other side of the record was called "Walking With You". This record was Tori's very first music release, and 500 copies were made. Today it is considered a valuable item, and costs a large amount of money.

Music career begins[change | change source]

When Tori was 21, she changed her name from Myra Ellen to Tori. She moved to Los Angeles, California to try and become a professional singer and musician. She put together a rock band which was called Y Kant Tori Read. The name of the band was a joke about when she went to piano school and did not want to read sheet music, instead making up her own music. The band included guitarist Steve Caton, drummer Matt Sorum, bass guitarist Brad Cobb and keyboard player Jim Tauber. The band was signed to a recording contract with Atlantic Records. In 1988 they released their first and only album, also called Y Kant Tori Read. It was released on 12" vinyl records, cassette tapes and compact discs. The album's style was rock and roll. It was a very different type of music from what Tori would become famous for later in her life.

The album did not sell many copies. It was considered a failure. The band broke up. Matt Sorum then joined the band Guns N' Roses, where he became well known. Brad Cobb became a successful musician also, playing in many different bands. Steve Caton later went on to perform with Tori on other projects until the year 1999.

Solo career[change | change source]

Tori was disappointed with the failure of her album. She had to continue recording more albums for Atlantic Records because of an agreement to record up to six albums if they asked her to. Tori put together an album by herself, but when she played the music for the people at the record label, they did not like it. She spent more time on the music, changing some of the songs until the record company was pleased.

In 1991, Tori released Little Earthquakes, her second album (after Y Kant Tori Read.) This album was a success. The lyrics on the album were about personal memories and emotions Tori had. They were about topics like religion, sex and growing up. One song, called "Me and a Gun," was personal because it was about a time when Tori was raped.

In 1993, Tori released Under the Pink, her third album. This album was even more successful than the last. The lyrics were still about topics from Little Earthquakes. It included a song called "Icicle" which was about childhood masturbation.

Tori released Boys For Pele, her fourth album, in 1996.. This was a much longer album, having 18 songs. The music was more complex and included different styles of music and types of musical instruments. Critics had different opinions about the album. Some reviews said the lyrics were hard to make sense of and that the music was not easy to listen to. Other reviews said the songs were very interesting and unique. Despite the mixed opinions, Boys For Pele was successful world-wide.

In 1998, Tori released From the Choirgirl Hotel, her fifth album. Instead of focusing mostly on piano and many different instruments, this album included a style of music called "electronica". This type of music often uses computers to create musical sounds and rhythms. Tori also included a full band on most of the songs, including guitar, drums and bass guitar. The lyrics of the album were still very personal. Some topics included Tori's own miscarriages of several babies, and her marriage. Most of the reviews of this album were very positive. In the first week, the album sold more copies than any of her other albums did in their first week. However, the album's total sales were not as high as any of her previous ones.

Tori released her sixth album, To Venus and Back in 1999. This was a double album. Many times, a double album means that there are two discs, cassettes or records included and has more tracks than a normal album. But To Venus and Back, had two albums packaged together under one concept. The first album in the set was called Orbiting, and was a full new album of 11 recorded songs. The second album in the set was called Live: Still Orbiting, and was a collection of live concert songs recorded at Tori's performances across the world. Orbiting was also an electronica theme like From the Choirgirl Hotel. Lyrics were about things like growing up, losing her babies in her miscarriages and homosexuality. The album received mostly positive reviews. A single from the album called Bliss was the first song from a major record label to be sold on the internet as a digital song.

Tori now felt that her record label was not doing enough to promote her music and albums. She had only one album left to record and release for them according to their agreement. In 2001, she released her seventh album Strange Little Girls. This album included songs that other singers and bands had written and recorded, but they were sung by Tori with a new idea of what they mean. Tori did not want to give her own songs to the record label if they were not going to properly promote them. The album featured Tori's versions of songs by performers like Neil Young, the band Slayer and the rapper Eminem. The album was a "concept album," which means that all of the songs were about one idea. The concept was to take songs that had been sung by men and sing them from a woman's point of view. The album received both good and bad reviews, but it did not sell nearly as many copies as her other albums.

In late 2001, Tori got a new contract with the record label Epic. In 2002, she released her eighth album, called Scarlet's Walk, another concept album. In this concept, Tori created a story about a woman named Scarlet. Scarlet took a journey across America after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 that happened in New York City. Scarlet meets a lot of different characters, mostly men. She has romances, friendships and gets involved in many situations. Each song is about one of the people she meets or one of the things that happens to her. The album was more successful than Strange Little Girls, but did not meet the success of her other albums. However, the single "A Sorta Fairytale" was her most successful American radio single. The music video for this song featured Academy Award winning actor Adrien Brody.

In 2003, Tori released a greatest hits album called Tales of a Librarian. The album was the final part of her agreement with Atlantic Records. She took many of her older songs and changed them in a recording studio, giving them new sounds. She also included two brand new songs. Also that year, Tori's new label, Epic joined with another label called BMG. Tori has said in interviews that this was not what she wanted to happen, and that the new people in charge were more interested in making money than in making good music. She also had a part in a movie called Mona Lisa Smile. Tori played a singer at a wedding reception.

In 2005, Tori released her ninth album, The Beekeeper. This album had a more traditional pop and rock musical style. It was described as adult contemporary music. The album was unusually long, with 19 songs on a regular edition and 20 songs on a special edition. The lyrics were about personal things in Tori's life. Many of them were about sickness and death. This is because in the year she recorded it, her mother nearly died of a heart attack, and then her older brother died in a car accident. Compared to her other albums, the album did not sell very well. The reviews of the album were both good and bad. Many said the album was too long. Later that year, Tori released a series of albums which were called The Original Bootlegs. There were six albums in total, each with two CDs. Each album was of a full-length live concert performed for her "The Beekeeper" tour. The albums were at first sold separately, and later put together in a box-set. That year she also released a biography called Piece by Piece. It was a best seller.

In 2006, Tori released a DVD called Fade to Red. It was a compilation album of all her music videos. That same year she also released a complex box-set of music called A Piano. This set had five CDs and compiled tracks spanning all the way back to the album Little Earthquakes. The package for the set was shaped like a piano keyboard.

In 2007, Tori released her tenth album, American Doll Posse, another concept album. This time Tori created several characters, but instead of just writing stories about them, she dressed up like them and created personalities for them. Tori would wear costumes and wigs for the characters during her concert performances. Each song on the album was supposed to be sung by one of the characters. The themes and music style of this album was very much like The Beekeeper. The album was even longer, with 23 tracks on the regular version and 26 on the special edition. It sold around the same number of copies as the previous album, and reviews were similar as well. Again, many said the album was too long. Later that year, Tori released a series of albums which were called Legs & Boots. There were 27 full double-albums released. Each one was the content from a live show during her tour for the album American Doll Posse. These albums were only available online; there were no CD versions.

In 2008, Tori made an agreement with Epic Records and left the label. She released a live concert DVD called Live in Montreaux 1991/1992. She then signed a contract with a new record label, Universal Republic.

In 2009, Tori released her eleventh album, Abnormally Attracted to Sin. Though the album got almost all good reviews, it did not sell any better than her more recent albums. Later that year, she released an album called Midwinter Graces. The album was like a holiday or Christmas album, but Tori called it a "seasonal album." It has both traditional carols and original songs by Tori.

In 2011 she released her first classical album, Night of Hunters on the classical label Deutsche Grammophon.

2012-now[change | change source]

In 2012 she made her own record label, Transmission Galactic. On October 1 her thirteenth album, Gold Dust, was released in the UK. One single was released, "Flavor". The song first appeared on her 2009 album Abnormally Attracted to Sin.

She said in an interview that she will release a new album in 2014.[3]

Discography[change | change source]

Awards and nominations[change | change source]

Amos was added to the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame on October 11, 2012.[4]

Grammy Awards
Year Nominee / work Award Result
1995 Under The Pink Best Alternative Music Album Nominated
1997 Boys for Pele Best Alternative Music Album Nominated
1999 From the Choirgirl Hotel Best Alternative Music Album Nominated
"Raspberry Swirl" Best Female Rock Vocal Performance Nominated
2000 To Venus and Back Best Alternative Music Album Nominated
"Bliss" Best Female Rock Vocal Performance Nominated
2002 Strange Little Girls Best Alternative Music Album Nominated
"Strange Little Girl" Best Female Rock Vocal Performance Nominated
Brit Awards
Year Nominee / work Award Result
1995 Best International Female Nominated
Q Awards
Year Nominee / work Award Result
1992 Best New Act Won
MTV Video Music Awards
Year Nominee / work Award Result
1992 "Silent All These Years" Best Female Video Nominated
Best Cinematography in a Video Nominated
Best New Artist in a Video Nominated
Breakthrough Video Nominated
Echo Klassik Awards
Year Nominee / work Award Result
2012 Night of Hunters Klassik Ohne Grenzen (crossover classical) prize Won

References[change | change source]

  1. Amos, Tori and Ann Powers (2005). Piece by Piece. New York: Broadway Books. pp. 49–50. ISBN 978-0-7679-1677-6.
  2. St. Leger, Marie Elsie (1994-02-24). "Under The Pink". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2012-09-09. Retrieved July 3, 2012. mezzo
  3. "Tori Amos: 'Anything is easier to talk about in music than in conversation'". TheGuardian.com. 14 September 2013.
  4. "N.C. Music Hall of Fame offers tickets". The Salisbury Post. August 29, 2012. Archived from the original on December 31, 2013. Retrieved September 10, 2012.