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Tori Amos is a singer/songwriter known for her influence on the 1990s alternative music scene and her piano-driven songs.
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Little Earthquakes (1992) was the first Tori Amos album that featured her signature style, and the album went gold in both the U.S. and U.K. Her next few albums established Amos as "the 90s' most essential musician besides Kurt Cobain" and "the wizard queen of alternative rock." Frustrated with corporate record labels, Amos converted her barn into a recording studio and continues to make music.
"I would grab a phone book and somehow crawl up and sit, and my mom said she would find me there, just happy as a clam, playing that piano."
Musician. Born August 22, 1963, as Myra Ellen Amos in Newton, North Carolina. Before she turned 3 years old, Amos fell in love with the family's piano, even though she couldn't quite yet reach the keys. "I would grab a phone book and somehow crawl up and sit," she recalled later. "And my mom said she would find me there, just happy as a clam, playing that piano." As a young girl growing up in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Rockville, Maryland, Amos was heavily influenced by her family's musical tastes, from her mom's beloved Broadway show tunes to the Beatles and Rolling Stones albums her brother brought home from the record shop. At the age of 5, her performance of the musical score Oliver! helped make her the youngest person ever admitted to the prestigious Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore.
In search of her first professional gig, a 13-year-old Amos enlisted the help of her minister father, who went calling on bars dressed in his clerical collar and with a Bible in hand. The unlikely pair landed Amos an unlikely first gig at Mr. Henry's, a D.C. gay bar. Amos continued to perform locally throughout her teenage years.
At the age of 21, Amos headed west to Los Angeles to pursue her dreams of a recording career under her new, adopted name: Tori. She landed a record deal with Atlantic in 1987. At the label's urging, Amos marketed herself as an 80s rocker girl, replete with permed hair and a back-up band called Y Kant Tori Read. When her first album received very little attention, Amos fought the label to create an album that more accurately reflected her own musical style. The result, Little Earthquakes (1992), was the first Tori Amos album that would feature the artist's signature style. Her hard work paid off, and the album went gold in both the U.S. and U.K.
Little Earthquakes also included the song "Me and a Gun," a deeply personal account of Amos's kidnapping and rape at knifepoint in Los Angeles years earlier. The song gave strength to countless other survivors of sexual assault, many of whom approached Amos after her shows to share their experiences. With them in mind in June 1994, Amos co-founded the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, a crisis hotline for sexual assault victims. The hotline received its 1 millionth caller in 2006, and has frequently been cited as one of the top charities in the U.S.
Amos released the albums Under the Pink in 1994 and Boys for Pele in 1996. These albums, with their dense, metaphoric lyrics, feminist themes and complex piano melodies, established Amos (in the words of various reviewers) as "the 90s' most essential musician besides Kurt Cobain" and "the wizard queen of alternative rock."
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