Fiona Apple

Fiona Apple Biography

Singer, Pianist (1977–)
Fiona Apple is an award-winning singer-songwriter whose self-confessional, literate albums routinely receive critical acclaim.


Born on September 13, 1977 in New York City, Fiona Apple is a singer-songwriter known for her husky voice and inventive, piano-driven music. Her 1996 debut album, Tidal, went multi-platinum and its single, "Criminal," earned Apple a Grammy. A sometimes controversial media figure, Apple has released several more acclaimed albums, including 2005's Extraordinary Machine, and sung on various collections.

Early Life

Born on September 13, 1977 in New York City, Fiona Apple Maggart is the second daughter of singer/dancer Diana McAfee and TV/film actor Brandon Maggart. Growing up in a creative environment, Apple started playing the piano at 8 years old. She turned to writing her own songs after she was raped during her pre-adolescence, the trauma of which she would speak openly about during her professional career.

Recording Career

As her parents had split years earlier, Apple moved to Los Angeles at 16 to spend time with her father. She also recorded a three-song demo and signed with Sony Music in 1995. The next year, Apple released her debut, Tidal, a melodic, moody tour de force showcasing her husky vocals. The album was both critically recognized and commercially successful, eventually selling 3 million copies. Part of Apple's initial buzz was the video directed by Mark Romanek for the single "Criminal," which showcased the slender songwriter making her way through the sprawled, bare limbs of anonymous models. Apple stated that she was unaware of the partial backlash that would ensue and how the video would be interpreted by some. She went on to win a Grammy for "Criminal" in the female rock vocalist category and also took home an MTV Music Video Award for Best New Artist. During her MTV acceptance speech, she cited Maya Angelou—a major influence on her writing—and profanely critiqued the celebrity industry, advising fans to be themselves rather than conform to what's hip.

In 1999, Apple released her second album When the Pawn…. The full title of the album was actually a 90-word poem, highlighting Apple's interest in using intricate language to support her work. Produced by Jon Brion, When the Pawn… focused on tumultuous relationship scenarios backed by grand musical motifs. The album had a smaller audience than its predecessor, yet was still certified gold, selling more than half a million copies, and continued to cement Apple’s reputation as a stellar craftsperson.

Her third album, 2005's Extraordinary Machine, had the singer expressing a newfound resiliency and was noted for its production by Mike Elizondo, who'd replaced most of the already completed production work of Brion. Machine appeared on a number of reviewers' year-end "Best Of" lists and also went gold.

In 2012, Apple released the percussive The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do.

In addition to her own releases, Apple has appeared on a number of collections, including The Best Is Yet to Come - The Songs of Cy Coleman, Rave On Buddy Holly, Chickens in Love, as well as the soundtracks for Pleasantville and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Musical Sensibilities

Apple's songs are a distinctive fusion of pop, jazz, soul and cabaret, containing a whimsy that belies her tendencies towards reflection, self-deprecation and tenderness. Wit and wordplay are major components of her work too, as seen with her longer album titles and lyrics like "my derring-do allows me to dance the rigadoon around you" and "the rivulets had you riveted to the places I wanted you to kiss me… ."

With her relationships a significant source of inspiration for her music, she has been romantically linked to director Paul Thomas Anderson, magician David Blaine and writer Jonathan Ames. Apple has declared herself somewhat of a recluse, though she is outspoken during interviews and has toured in support of her own solo projects as well as with Lilith Fair and the band Nickel Creek.

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