Article On Tori In The Seattle Times
As posted by Persephone to the rec.music.tori-amos newsgroup
THE SEATTLE TIMES "TEMPO" (Weekly Guide to Arts & Entertainment)
COVER: Tori Amos photo with the caption: "Tori, Tori, Tori. Gifted songwriter and 'spiritual channeler,' Amos plays three sold-out shows at the Paramount -- page 3"
'GODDESS', THY NAME IS TORI
By: TOM PHALEN, SPECIAL TO THE SEATTLE TIMES
(c) 1996 The Seattle Times. All rts. reserved
A recent search of the World Wide Web found that singer, songwriter and spiritual seductress Tori Amos had no fewer than 75 sites dedicated to her. Sites that offered photographs and sites that offered audio, both interviews and music. Sites in French, German and Polish. Fanzines both sanctioned -- like "Really Deep Thoughts" -- and not. But mostly sites of an obsessed, or at the very least incredibly devoted, coterie of fans who want to share their knowledge of and personal experiences with the woman some call "The Goddess."
It's that kind of adoration that drew more than 5,000 people to a recent in-store appearance Amos made in New York; that has resulted in millions in sales of her three albums, despite a lack of hit singles; that have sold out two of the three scheduled performances at the Paramount Theatre, with the third (10:30 p.m. Wednesday) nearly gone. Her current tour, in which she'll make more than 180 solo appearances over a year's time, should be one of the highest grossing tours of 1996. Amos' connection with her fans goes much farther than a casual player/listener relationship. She leaves a deeply personal mark on the hearts, minds and souls of her following. And seemingly they on her.
Amos's music is a heady and spiritual brew of classical keyboards, occasional rock and world-beat riffs, fairies -- lots of fairies -- sex, myths, far-reaching introspection, religion, interpersonal intrigues, a lot of inner, personal pain, and sometimes just plain silly word play. Depending on what source you plug into, Amos is either a gifted songwriter trying to expand her art and craft, or a channeler of outside spirits. Amos has acknowledged both.
She was born Myra Ellen Amos in North Carolina almost 33 years ago, smack on the cusp of Leo and Virgo, for what that's worth. Her father is a Methodist minister -- that alone would be fodder for a hundred songs -- her mother a homemaker. A child prodigy, she was playing piano at 2 1/2, studying classical piano at Baltimore's Peabody Institute at 5. By the time she was 13 she was playing in clubs in Washington, D.C.
She moved to Los Angeles in 1984, and started the rock group Y Kant Tori Read. After one album in 1988, the group was over and Amos retreated. She returned to solo playing and began composing strictly for herself. She moved to London, worked small clubs and, in 1992, released "Little Earthquakes."
It was a stunningly cathartic and beautiful collection. Amos addressed a myriad of extremely personal subjects, perhaps none more so than in "Me And A Gun," an a capella retelling of her own rape experience. If one song touched a nerve, it was that. Amos began getting contacted by scores of women who had suffered a similar calamity, and she responded. With R.A.I.N.N. (the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 800-656-HOPE) she began a relief line. It was a logical extension of her own self-healing, and any post-concert meet-and-greet. Amos doesn't shake hands, she hugs. And she listens. Four years ago, after a Moore Theatre Concert, a woman came to Amos in tears because her life was in shambles and only Amos' music seemed a balm. She left with not only words of hope and encouragement but a handwritten list of books she might go to for help and the advice that she seek counsel. It was a typical Tori, a scene that repeats itself at almost every appearance she makes.
In her second release, "Under The Pink," Amos further delved into her relationships with men, women, and God, the latter in the wry title song. "God, sometimes you just don't come through," she sang. "Do you need a woman to look after you?" The matriarchal as opposed to patriarchal order was further examined in her latest release, "Boys For Pele" (Pele being the Hawaiian goddess of creation and destruction in whose volcanoes young men were once sacrificed). Each of the songs on the recording is a different "girl," characters Amos explores and exorcises. Each is another facet of Amos.
Although she's been nearly canonized by some of her fans, Amos readily admits she's no saint. She's ambitious, a taskmaster, can be willful and "bitchy." She is also sexy, sensual, sweet, sympathetic and playful in an almost childlike way. Her performances speak volumes about her talent and her savvy. She is always moving if not enlightening; her music and her persona work on a multitude of levels.
And even she would say you don't have to believe in fairies to believe in Tori Amos. But it's probably a plus.
1) RICK MAIMAN/ ASSOCIATED PRESS -- TORI AMOS DOESN'T SHAKE HANDS WITH FANS, SHE HUGS THEM.
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