Tori Amos

  • Alternative rock singer and songwriter born Myra Ellen Amos in Newton North Carolina in 1963. She grew up in the Washington D.C. area.
  • Amos has an amazing knack for music. She experiences chromesthesia, where she sees music as structures of light. When she was 2 years old, when she could reach the piano, she taught herself to play, and she could reproduce music after hearing it only once. She was accepted into the preparatory division of the Peabody Conservatory of Music when she was 5 – the youngest person ever. She studied classical piano until she was 11, when she left the Conservatory, in part because of her interest in rock music. Soon after, she was playing at piano bars in Washington DC, and she won a talent contest when she was 14.
  • She recorded demo tapes, and at 17 years old, her father started to send them to record companies. Previously, she performed using her middle name, but she adopted the name Tori when a friend told her that she looked like a Torrey Pine tree. She signed with a label, and moved to Los Angeles in 1984 to begin her professional career.
  • In 1986, she formed a group called Y Kant Tori Read, basing the name on the fact that she had difficulty reading music that she had not seen before. They released a self-titled album in 1988, which flopped (original copies have become quite collectible). The group broke up, and she started singing back up for other artists.
  • She still had a record contract that required her to record music, so she began working on a solo album in 1990. After several reworks, she moved to London to record additional tracks – her record company thought that her eccentric music would be well  received in England. In 1992, her debut solo album was released, Little Earthquakes. The songs on the album reflect on her religious upbringing, sexuality, and her struggle to establish her identity.  While the album only reached #54 on the album chart, her future success led to steady sales over the years, and it ultimately was certified 2x platinum. The singles Silent All These Years and Crucify were top 30 songs on the Alternative Songs chart.
  • In 1994, Amos released her second album, Under the Pink. It became her breakthrough album, debuting at #1 in the UK and peaking at #12 in the U.S. Cornflake Girl peaked at #12 on the Alternative Songs chart, and God topped the chart – these songs established Amos as a alternative rock star of the 90s. The album ultimately was certified 2x platinum.
  • Three more albums released in the 90s were all certified platinum – Boys for Pele, From the Choirgirl Hotel and From Venus and Back. Songs reaching the top 20 of the Alternative Songs chart were Caught a Lite Sneeze and Spark, and techno remixes of 2 other songs topped the Dance Club Songs chart – Professional Widow and Jackie’s Strength. From Venus and Back was a double album, with one disc of new music and a second disc of live performances during her tour in 1998.
  • Amos remained prolific in the 00s and 10s, with 10 studio albums released – her most recent album, Native Invader, was released in 2017. In the 00s, 5 songs were top 20 hits on the Alternative chart. As she entered the 10s, she had reached a creative block, and she decided to experiment with new musical styles – her first album of the 10s was a classical music album, featuring Amos’ piano virtuosity along with lyrics that she wrote to accompany music written by classical composers like Chopin, Bach and Debussy. Her next album took rock songs from her earlier albums and set them to an orchestral setting. She returned to more traditional alternative songs on her last 2 albums from the decade.
  • In 2005, Amos published an autobiography, titled Piece by Piece, which explores her interest in mythology and religion, and chronicles her rise to fame. In 2020, she has a book titled Resistance: A Songwriter’s Story of Hope, Change and Courage.
  • Maybe you’re not familiar with Tori Amos? She’s a terrific talent as a songwriter, singer and pianist. Upgrade your musical taste, and get to know her music. Here’s a song you can start with – Crucify, the fifth single from her debut album. Enjoy.

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