Tori Article In The St. Petersburg Times

Sent to me by Monica Sanghavi .

True Tori
Turning to Tori
By Eric Deggan

Through her emotionally charged songwriting, Tori Amos reaches out to thousands of young women who look to her for inspiration.

Tori Amos comes Saturday to Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. Tickets are $25.75 for the 8 p.m. show. 791-7400.

Times Pop Music Critic
Published before October 19, 1996

At age 15, Lauren Krause already knows a lot about heartbreak.

Not because her date to the Homecoming dance at Bloomingdale High School decided to take another girl, or because a different guy who seemed to like her turned out to have a girlfriend already.

She knows because, when those things happened, she had a more experienced gal pal to consult: singer/songwriter Tori Amos.

When she got a nasty call from the girlfriend of the boy who seemed to like her, for instance, Krause pulled out Amos' Under the Pink album and called up the mournful piano and vocal lament, Baker Baker.

The singer's lithe vocal and piano lines seem to float through the track; a deliciously tortured exploration of a failed relationship measured in Amos' breathy, sensual lyrics.

A sample: I guess you heard/he's gone to L.A./he says that behind my eyes I'm hiding/and he tells me I pushed him away. Baker Baker/baking a cake/make me a day/make me whole again.

""Tori helps me get through everything,'' says Krause, who sums up her feelings about guys with a curt "'they're scum.'"

Now in her sophomore year at the Brandon area high school, Krause has found a kindred spirit in a singer/songwriter who artfully lays bare her own disappointments with the opposite sex.

For Krause's classmate, 16-year-old Rachel Leslie, the bond with Amos came from hearing songs like the emotion-charged Me and a Gun; a brutally honest song about the performer's own rape by an acquaintance at gunpoint.

""She talks about issues that are affecting women in the '90s and the problems we face,'' says Leslie, who owns Amos' three albums, a host of imported CDs, posters, T-shirts and concert programs all bearing the likeness of her flame-haired hero.

""Any time I need to think about something, I just turn her (songs) on,'' Leslie adds. ""They help me get through a lot of hard stuff that comes with getting older.''

Certainly, teenage fans attaching themselves to a rock star is nothing new. But Amos' fans are a special breed, latching onto their quirky, talented goddess with a fervor that often rivals Beatlemania at its most feverish.

It's a devoted cult of personality, with its own traditions and rituals, ranging from Tori parties where fans indulge an evening orgy of Amos videos and CDs to the singer/songwriter's own devoted insistence on greeting fans informally after every concert.

Sure, Hootie and the Blowfish sell more records, but Amos' recent concert stop in April at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center showed who really can move a crowd.

Perched on a bench between a grand piano and a harpsichord, her luminescent, blue eyes twinkling with a brightness hinting at the passion she would reveal while performing that night, Amos drew a flood of breathless exclamations from the sold-out crowd.

After a few shouted bursts of ""We love you, Tori'' from the faithful, Amos' impish smile broadened as she jumped across the stage, releasing everyone's nervous energy. A second later, she was asking them to tone down the devotion, saying, ""I want to take you on the ride of your life. Let me sing for you, tonight.''

It was a gentle rebuke that seemed to sum up her appeal. Like the perfect friend, even when she's upset with her disciples, she understands.

""If somebody needs to collect a million pictures of me, well, then that's what they need to do,'' Amos told Entertainment Weekly earlier this year. ""That's what I am . I'm, like, a really good girl friend.''

""Tori is so open with her own emotions and feelings. (fans) can interpret it like she's writing directly to them,'' says Tom Richards, who runs the only official Tori Amos Fan Club from his Clearwater home, also serving as editor of the club's newsletter/fan zine, Upside Down.

""I get letters all the time from fans who say they feel like they've known Tori all their lives,'' adds Richards, who receives about 60 to 100 pieces of mail a day for Amos, replying personally to just about every one. ""They can get very attached to her.''

About 60 percent of the fan club's 3,700 members are female, with about 30 percent ages 14 to 17, Richards says. Often, because of Amos' frank discussion of rape and other issues, the club will receive long letters from troubled fans looking to Amos for solutions to serious personal problems, he adds.

""There are a lot of fans that are emotionally fragile,'' he says, noting that troubled letter-writers are often referred to counseling services that can help. ""We get letters that are just pages and pages of a fan pouring out their heart. I think she (Amos) takes it to heart.''

Because she writes so evocatively on subjects like sex, relation ships, love and loss delivered with an attitude that jumps from smouldering sensuality to a girlish camaraderie, women and young girls in particular bond strongly with her, Richards adds.

""(Women) are repressed so much, told not to speak our minds Seeing her talk helps other women,'' says Gina Mueller, a 33-year-old fan who helps Rich ards assemble Upside Down.

""It's like she gives you a voice even though she's started tell ing fans now, "You don't need my voice, you've got your own, Mueller adds.

To the 32-year-old singer/songwriter, her fans' quests for acceptance may mirror her own.

Born the daughter of a Methodist minister, Amos went to church four days a week, sang in the choir and studied music as a prodigy at the prestigious Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore before her rebellious streak kicked in.

Expelled from Peabody for playing her own compositions at a school examination, Amos honed her songwriting and performance skills at the piano bars of Washington, D.C.-area clubs (curiously, her father often drove her to these gigs) before moving to Los Angeles to lead an ill-fated metal band, Y Kant Tori Read?

Refocusing on a stripped down piano and vocal approach after that project tanked, Amos began crafting the intricate, emotional style that fueled such hits as Cornflake Girl and God.

These days, she's a platinum- selling singer/songwriter several times over, with her 1991 debut Little Earthquakes and 1993's Under the Pink notching better than 1-million copies sold.

The phenomenon even has reached into cyberspace, where a casual search will turn up hundreds of sites on the Internet's World Wide Web devoted to the singer, including the elaborate First International Church of Tori.

""Among all the really big fans I've met, they all feel like Tori's music has changed their lives through some dramatic event or revelation,'' says Monica Sanghavi, a 19-year-old Amos fan in Madison, Wis., who keeps tabs on her idol through the Internet.

""Once someone has changed your life like that, they are your best friends for life,'' adds Sanghavi, who has met the singer five times during Amos' traditionally informal after-show appearances to greet fans. ""I thought Tori was my best friend before I even met her.'

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