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Tori Amos - Singer-Songwriter, Actress, Musician

Updated on August 26, 2016

Tori Amos

"When you stop putting yourself on the line, and you don't touch your own heart, how do you expect to touch other people?" --Tori Amos

Each of us has its own story to tell. It could be about the experiences we had gone through no matter how well or bad it is or even for just a single thought on how life has treated you today. Some had chosen to speak out while others forever held captives with their own agonies. But, this exceptional artist has learned enough the true essence of being true to yourself through music as a great healer of the soul...

This lens is all about her and her music.

Tori Amos was born Myra Ellen Amos, the daughter of Reverend Edison Amos and Mary Ellen Amos, on August 22, 1963, in North Carolina. She was a piano prodigy from the beginning, playing by ear at age 2 1/2, and writing her own songs by age 4. It's been said that by age 5, she could play anything on the piano after hearing it only once. She won a scholarship at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, Maryland - the youngest person ever to be admitted there. She often ran into trouble there, as they discouraged her from composing her own music. She was kicked out at age 11 for playing classic rock tunes from Led Zeppelin and The Beatles by ear, which the institute deemed unacceptable.

She started playing clubs at the age of 13, accompanied by her father as a chaperone, which continued through high school. In 1977, she won a local (Montgomery County, Maryland) talent contest. In 1980, at the age of 17, she even released her first single, Baltimore/Walking With You, on the MEA label (her initials). She received a citation from the mayor of Baltimore for the song.

She adopted the name Tori, also at the age of 17, after a friend remarked that she looked like a Tori. After graduating from high school, she performed at hotels (both old standards and some of her own material) while taking some music classes at a local college.

In 1984, at the age of 21, she moved out on her own to Hollywood. She played solo in clubs to earn money and did a few television commercials.

In 1987, she formed the pop band Y Kant Tori Read, and signed under Atlantic Records. In May of 1988, the debut album was released and proceeded to flop miserably. Even today, with Tori's success, Atlantic has kept this album out of publication at Tori's request. "It was a different time; I was in a different place. Everything was over the top - the high hair, everything. I was shopping at Retail Slut." Soon after, she decided to go back to the girl and her piano. In fall 1989, Atlantic gave her one more shot at doing an album. The next March, she gave them a tape of her songs and received the go-ahead to start recording. They later rejected the master tape, and she became even more determined.

In 1991 she wrote Me And A Gun a few hours before a show and performed it that night. In October of that year, it was released as a single. It was received well in the UK, and Atlantic decided to release her first album, Little Earthquakes, there. It debuted at #15 on the charts and was quickly followed up by a release in the US.

Her second album, Under the Pink, was released in 1994. During production, Atlantic Records wanted to bring in a new producer for the album. However, as she liked her producer, this did not please her, and she threatened to burn her master tapes. Atlantic relented and ended up with another successful album. Soon after, she helped found R.A.I.N.N. - Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network.

In December of 1995, she distributed her single Caught a Lite Sneeze over the internet, which was the first single by any artist to be distributed in that manner. The rest of the album Boys for Pele was released in 1996. It received more notice by her parents - her father originally thought the song "Father Lucifer" was about him, and she was forced to explain that the song was derived from somewhere else completely. "No! I was taking drugs with a South American shaman and I really did visit the Devil and I had a journey."

Late in 1996, she discovered she was pregnant by Mark Hawley, one of the sound engineers of her Dew Drop Inn Tour. But two days before Christmas, she suffered a miscarriage, only three months into the pregnancy. The miscarriage provided the focus for a new set of songs, which became From The Choirgirl Hotel, her first album recorded with other musicians joining her live, going past the girl and her piano sound.

"The songs started coming not long after I miscarried. The strange thing is, the love doesn't go away for this being that you've carried. You can't go back to being the person you were before you carried life. And yet you're not a mother, either, and you still are connected to a force, a being. And I was trying to find ways to keep that communication going. Along the way on the search, sort of walking with the undead, I would run into these songs. The one thing they kept saying to me was I had to find a deep woman's rhythm. You begin to create where you can. If you can't create physical life, you find a life force. If that's in music, that's in music. I started to find this deep, primitive rhythm, and I started to move to it. And I held hands with sorrow, and I danced with her, and we giggled a bit. And this record really became about being alive enough to feel things, no matter what that is."

In February 1998, she was married to Mark in a small ceremony at the Church of St Lawrence in West Wycombe, England. Her father was there to give her away - which was a suprise to some, as the two have had a rocky relationship at times.

Tori released To Venus and Back in 1999, her first double album. The first disc contained fresh studio material, while the second disc claimed to capture some of the magic from her live performances. Many saw this 2-CD package as nothing more than a cynical marketing ploy that forced fans to purchase to two CD's just to hear an album worth of new material. Indeed, there was virtually nothing stylistically similar between the two disks that would warranted the bundling.

On September 5, 2000, Tori gave birth to her daughter, Natashya Lrien Hawley.

In 2001, Tori's sixth album, Strange Little Girls, was released. It consists of 12 covers of various songs, all originally written by men about women.

2002 saw the release of her seventh album, Scarlet's Walk, released at the end of October. Some of the songs on the album come from stories that one set of her grandparents, who were eastern Cherokee, used to tell her as a child. Others were a result of, or at least influenced by, the events on September 11, 2001.

In 2003, Tori released Tales of a Librarian, a greatest hits collection for which she revisited many of her favorite songs as well as adding a few new songs for her fans.

2005 presented us with The Beekeeper, a somewhat more accessible album than some of her earlier work. In conjunction with the album, Amos released an autobiography entitled Piece by Piece in February 2005; co-authored by rock music journalist Ann Powers, it delves deeply into Amos' obsession with mythology and religion. It explores her songwriting process while telling the story of her progression into fame.

During 2005, Amos negotiated a contract with the Warner Bros. reissue imprint Rhino to release a string of reissues and compilations. The first release of the deal was the two-disc DVD set Fade to Red: The Video Collection in February 2006, which contained all but three of Amos' solo music videos, as well as behind-the-scenes footage and commentary. The contract continued in September 2006 with the release of the career-spanning five-disc box set A Piano: The Collection, celebrating Tori's 15-year solo career. The set includes various album songs, singles, remixes, alternate mixes, demos, outtakes, and a string of unreleased songs from album sessions - "Ode to My Clothes," "Peeping Tommi," "Not David Bowie," "Dolphin Song," and the much-mythologised "Zero Point," which Tori mentioned in interviews as well as the liner notes to 1999's To Venus and Back. The collection is lavishly packaged to resemble a piano keyboard.

Tori is well known for her extremely dedicated fans, Toriphiles, and the 'Net fans Tori herself has nicknamed Ears With Feet. A group of these fans are due to her song, Me And A Gun, which has helped many deal with their own rapes. Michael Stipe, from R.E.M., once even remarked to Tori, "Hey, can I borrow your audience?"

One of her primary influences is Joni Mitchell. Another is Kate Bush. She is well known for her very enigmatic lyrics, especially on the newer albums. She's often said that she likes to challenge the fans, and knows they like it when she does.

Her ninth studio album, American Doll Posse, was released on May 1st and the ensuing tour began on May 28 in Rome, Italy.

Information Coutesy of Last.fm

Little Earthquakes - release date 1992 - A heavily confessional and journalistic work, it is often considered the most accessible of her musical catalogue.

Little Earthquakes
Little Earthquakes

All songs written by Amos.

Track Listing

1. "Crucify" – 4:58

2. Girl" – 4:06

3. Silent All These Years" – 4:10

4. "Precious Things" – 4:26

5. "Winter" – 5:40

6. "Happy Phantom" – 3:12

7. "China" – 4:58

8. "Leather" – 3:12

9. "Mother" – 6:59

10. "Tear in Your Hand" – 4:38

11. "Me and a Gun" – 3:44

12. "Little Earthquakes" – 6:51

 

Under the Pink - Released date January 1994

Under the Pink
Under the Pink

All songs written and composed by Amos, except 2-1

Track Listing

1. "Pretty Good Year" 3:25

2. "God"" 3:58

3. "Bells for Her" 5:20

4. "Past the Mission" 4:05

5. "Baker Baker" 3:20

6. "The Wrong Band" 3:03

7. "The Waitress" 3:09

8. "Cornflake Girl" 5:06

9. "Icicle" 5:47

10. "Cloud on My Tongue" 4:44

11. "Space Dog" 5:10

12. "Yes, Anastasia" 9:33

Disc Two

1. "A Case of You" (orig. on "Cornflake Girl" UK limited edition CD single) -4:38

2. "Honey" (orig. on 2nd "Pretty Good Year" UK CD single) -3:47

3. "Daisy Dead Petals" (orig. on "Pretty Good Year" UK limited edition CD single) -3:02

4. "Sister Janet" (orig. on 1st "Cornflake Girl" UK single) -4:02

5. "Sugar" (orig. on "China" UK single) -4:27

6. "Take to the Sky" (orig. on "Winter" single) -4:20

7. "Upside Down" (orig. on "Me and a Gun" UK single) -4:22

8. "Flying Dutchman" (orig. on "China" single) -6:33

9. "Here. In My Head (Live)" (orig. on "Past the Mission" UK CD single) -6:05

10. "Black Swan" (orig. on "Pretty Good Year" UK CD single) -4:04

11. "Little Drummer Boy (Live)" (orig. on Kevin & Bean: We've Got Your Yule Logs Hangin) -3:20

 

Boys for Pele - Release date January 1996

Boys for Pele
Boys for Pele

All songs written and composed by Amos

Track Listing

1. "Beauty Queen/Horses" 6:07

2. "Blood Roses" 3:56

3. "Father Lucifer" 3:43

4. "Professional Widow" 4:31

5. "Mr. Zebra" 1:07

6. "Marianne" 4:07

7. "Caught a Lite Sneeze" 4:24

8. "Muhammad My Friend" 3:48

9. "Hey Jupiter" 5:07

10. "Way Down" 1:13

11. "Little Amsterdam" 4:29

12. "Talula" 4:08

13. "Not the Red Baron" 3:49

14. "Agent Orange" 1:26

15. "Doughnut Song" 4:19

16. "In the Springtime of His Voodoo" -5:32

17. "Putting the Damage On" -5:08

18. "Twinkle" -3:12

 

From the Choirgirl Hotel - released date May 5, 1998

From The Choir Girl Hotel
From The Choir Girl Hotel

All songs written by Amos.

Track Listing

1. "Spark" – 4:13

2. "Cruel" – 4:07

3. "Black-Dove (January)" – 4:38

4. "Raspberry Swirl" – 3:58

5. "Jackie's Strength" – 4:26

6. "i i e e e" – 4:07

7. "Liquid Diamonds" – 6:21

8. "She's Your Cocaine" – 3:42

9. "Northern Lad" – 4:19

10. "Hotel" – 5:19

11. "Playboy Mommy" – 4:08

12. "Pandora's Aquarium" – 4:45

 

To Venus and Back - released date September 21, 1999 - Two disc album set

To Venus & Back
To Venus & Back

All songs written by Tori Amos.

Track Listing

Disc One

1. "Bliss" – 3:42

2. "Ju�rez" – 3:48

3. "Concertina" – 3:56

4. "Glory of the '80s" – 4:03

5. "Lust" – 3:54

6. "Suede" – 4:58

7. "Josephine" – 2:30

8. "Riot Poof" – 3:28

9. "D�tura" – 8:25

10. "Spring Haze" – 4:44

11. "1000 Oceans" – 4:19

Disc Two

1. "Precious Things" – 7:37

2. "Cruel" – 6:47

3. "Cornflake Girl" – 6:31

4. "Bells for Her" – 5:42

5. "Girl" – 4:15

6. "Cooling" – 5:09

7. "Mr. Zebra" – 1:17

8. "Cloud on My Tongue" – 4:58

9. "Sugar" – 5:10

10. "Little Earthquakes" – 7:37

11. "Space Dog" – 5:46

12. "Waitress" – 10:24

13. "Purple People" – 4:11

 

Strange Little Girls - released date September 17, 2001 - The album's twelve tracks were covers of songs written by men but reinterpreted by Amos in a females p

Strange Little Girls
Strange Little Girls

Track Listing

1. "New Age" (by The Velvet Underground)

2. "'97 Bonnie & Clyde" (by Eminem)

3. "Strange Little Girl" (by The Stranglers)

4. "Enjoy the Silence" (by Depeche Mode)

5. "I'm Not in Love" (by 10cc)

6. "Rattlesnakes" (by Lloyd Cole)

7. "Time" (by Tom Waits)

8. "Heart of Gold" (by Neil Young)

9. "I Don't Like Mondays" (by the Boomtown Rats)

10. "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" (by The Beatles)

11. "Raining Blood" (by Slayer)

12. "Real Men" (by Joe Jackson)

 

Scarlet's Walk - release date October 28, 2002 - The 18th track concept album details the cross country travels of Scarlet, a character based on Amos as well as

Scarlet's Walk
Scarlet's Walk

All songs written by Amos.

Track Listing

1. "Amber Waves" – 3:38

2. "A Sorta Fairytale" – 5:30

3. "Wednesday" – 2:29

4. "Strange" – 3:05

5. "Carbon" – 4:33

6. "Crazy" – 4:23

7. "Wampum Prayer" – 0:44

8. "Don't Make Me Come to Vegas" – 4:51

9. "Sweet Sangria" – 4:01

10. "Your Cloud" – 4:30

11. "Pancake" – 3:54

12. "I Can't See New York" – 7:14

13. "Mrs. Jesus" – 3:05

14. "Taxi Ride" – 4:00

15. "Another Girl's Paradise" – 3:34

16. "Scarlet's Walk" – 4:16

17. "Virginia" – 3:55

18. "Gold Dust" – 5:54

 

The Beekeeper - release date February 21, 2005 - In this album, Amos incorporates Celtic choirs and African drums and gnostic themes from the Apocryphon of John

The Beekeeper
The Beekeeper

All songs written by Amos.

Track Listing

1. "Parasol" – 3:54 [3]

2. "Sweet the Sting" – 4:16

3. "The Power of Orange Knickers" (featuring Damien Rice) – 3:36

4. "Jamaica Inn" – 4:03

5. "Barons of Suburbia" – 5:21

6. "Sleeps with Butterflies" – 3:35

7. "General Joy" – 4:13

8. "Mother Revolution" – 3:58

9. "Ribbons Undone" – 4:30

10. "Cars and Guitars" – 3:45

11. "Witness" – 6:06

12. "Original Sinsuality" – 2:02

13. "Ireland" – 3:49

14. "The Beekeeper" – 6:50

15. "Martha's Foolish Ginger" – 4:22

16. "Hoochie Woman" – 2:34

17. "Goodbye Pisces" – 3:36

18. "Marys of the Sea" – 5:11

19. "Toast" – 3:42

 

American Doll Posse -release date April 26, 2007 - Her newest album up to date

The "American Doll Posse" of the title consists of five different female characters that Amos "developed around the album's 20 tracks," according to US Weekly...

“What I'm trying to tell other women is they have their own version of the compartmentalised feminine which may have been repressed in each one of them. For many years I have been an image; that isn't necessarily who I am completely. I have made certain choices and that doesn't mean that those choices are the whole story. I think these women are showing me that I have not explored honest extensions of the self who are now as real as the redhead.”

American Doll Posse
American Doll Posse

All songs written by Amos.

Track Listing

1. "Yo George"* (Isabel) – 1:25

2. "Big Wheel" (Tori) – 3:15

3. "Bouncing Off Clouds" (Clyde) – 4:06

4. "Teenage Hustling" (Pip) – 4:02

5. "Digital Ghost" (Tori) – 3:50

6. "You Can Bring Your Dog" (Santa) – 4:04

7. "Mr. Bad Man" (Isabel) – 3:18

8. "Fat Slut"* (Pip) – 0:41

9. "Girl Disappearing" (Clyde) – 4:00

10. "Secret Spell" (Santa) – 4:04

11. "Devils and Gods"* (Isabel) – 0:53

12. "Body and Soul" (Pip and Santa) – 3:56

13. "Father's Son" (Tori) – 3:59

14. "Programmable Soda"* (Santa) – 1:25

15. "Code Red" (Tori) – 5:27

16. "Roosterspur Bridge" (Clyde) – 4:01

17. "Beauty of Speed" (Clyde) – 4:06

18. "Almost Rosey" (Isabel) – 5:26

19. "Velvet Revolution"* (Pip) – 1:19

20. "Dark Side of the Sun" (Isabel) – 4:16

21. "Posse Bonus"* (Tori) – 1:45

22. "Smokey Joe" (Pip) – 4:19

23. "Dragon" (Santa) – 5:03

 

About the recording of the American Doll Posse

“I've had the time of my life making it. It has been unbelievably demanding, but at the same time when you're so challenged, and you can complete it and still stand in a pair of high heels, then you're doing OK.”

In one of her interviews, she states that two of the elements also contributed to the concept and direction of her new album was the completion of the A Piano boxed set, which covers the last fifteen years of her work, and which gave her the sense of completion to the work she had done previously and the intense passion to try something new.

"The main message of my new album is:the political is personal. This as opposed to the feminist statement from years ago that the political is personal.I know it has been said that it goes both ways, but we have turn it around. We have to think like that. I'm now taking subjects that I could not have been able to take on in my twenties. With Little Earthquakes I took on more personal things. But if you're going to be an American woman in 2007 with a real view on what is going on, you need to be brave, and you need to know that some people won't want to look at it...

This is not about being right-on political. Instead my way is a woman's way, which is very different. This is about walking in the ladies' room and putting on lipstick and high heels. And music itself has transformative power that tends to be forgotten. It can ignite a flame in the listener. There's nothing stronger than making someone feel that they have the right to question those in authority. And I don't think this battle will be won by using music the way it was used in the sixties. You don't want to get dragged into the rhetoric of either party, because if you are, you've been seduced into their lair. Instead it's about reminding women and men but there are more young women than men standing in line at my show--their potential...

--Tori Amos on Paul Tingen's Interview

Abnormally Attracted to Sin - released date May 19, 2009

Abnormally Attracted to Sin
Abnormally Attracted to Sin

All songs written and composed by Amos.

Track Listing:

1. "Give"

2. "Welcome to England"

3. "Strong Black Vine"

4. "Flavor"

5. "Not Dying Today"

6. "Maybe California"

7. "Curtain Call"

8. "Fire to Your Plain"

9. "Police Me"

10. "That Guy"

11. "Abnormally Attracted to Sin"

12. "500 Miles"

13. "Mary Jane"

14. "Starling"

15. "Fast Horse"

16. "Ophelia"

17. "Lady in Blue"

 

Your Rants & Reviews!

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    • profile image

      katespade 4 years ago

      If you had only 10 CDs to take with you as you flee an earth devastated by global warming, what would offer you the greatest pleasure for the rest of your days? My own choices are listed below in alphabetical order.

    • profile image

      Echo Phoenix 5 years ago

      Tori is beyond words she is so amazing... this is a great start, I hope you continue to build this Lens as I will definitely come back for more!!! I enjoyed your favorite MP3 selections @Amazon and have featured you on Facebook;)

    • JeanJohnson LM profile image

      JeanJohnson LM 6 years ago

      I love Tori, she is such an amazing woman. Great lens.

    • OccultPriestess1 profile image

      OccultPriestess1 6 years ago

      Great Bio on Tori- I had no idea she was an actress too. Thanks for reviving an old flame in my heart :)

    • profile image

      NYThroughTheLens 6 years ago

      I love Tori. Absolutely love her. Great lens.

    • Mistalina profile image

      Mistalina 6 years ago

      Tori Amos is wonderful. Thank you for creating this lens.

    • toriphile81 profile image

      toriphile81 6 years ago

      Love Love Love Tori!! Great information!

    • profile image

      Alyzarin 8 years ago

      Tori is my Goddess, you have done a brilliant lens on her, she would be proud.

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 9 years ago

      ~~*~~

      WONDERFUL Tori lens! Thanks for visiting mine! lol

      FIVE MUSICAL STARS!

      Kathy's ACEO on Squidoo:

      https://hubpages.com/art/kathysACEO

      ALOHA, KATHY

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Great job, Naiza! I'm a Tori fan too.

    • profile image

      bdkz 9 years ago

      Great lens. I love Tori!