Tori Amos almost falls into a class of music of her own. As introspective as Alanis Morissette, but less folksy than Jewel. As edgy and original as Bj√∂rk, but not as grungy as P.J. Harvey or Fiona Apple. With a tremendous fan following hailing her for her strong and erotic style, Tori Amos has secured her place in contemporary music; and has dared to go where no other has gone with a piano.
Myra Ellen Amos was born August 22, 1963, in Newton, North Carolina, to a Methodist minister father and a homemaker mother. The youngest of three children, Ellen (as Tori was referred to before an acquaintance said she looked more like a "Tori" while watching her perform) moved to a Maryland suburb at the age of one, when her family decided to relocate.
It was hard to ignore the fact that young Tori had an innate talent for playing the piano. By the time she was four, she was composing music on the piano, and two years later she was studying classical piano at the Peabody Institute at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University, becoming the youngest student to attend the school.
Her stay at the prestigious school did not last long after she performed her own compositions to the faculty (apparently ad-libbing John Lennon and The Doors tunes) that did not meet the conservative standard they were accustomed to. Foreshadowing her non-conformist style, Tori was expelled from the school.
The 13-year-old took her talents to Washington DC and Baltimore clubs, this time performing jazz on the keyboard, while in high school. Along with her older brother, Tori penned a song called "Baltimore", in honor of the Orioles who were heading to the World Series during that time.
After graduating from high school in 1981, the girl named "Most Likely to Succeed" by her classmates headed to the West Coast to pursue her dream of becoming a famous performer. Twenty-one and right smack in the middle of her punk phase, Tori joined a hard-rock band called Y Kant Tori Read (a jab at her conformist school days at the conservatory).
The band's self-titled debut was a flop and her days with the band were short lived, but thankfully, audiences knew better than to judge the band's lead singer solely on Y Kant Tori Read's commercial and critical failure. Her solo performances proved that she was more than just another 80's female punk rocker.
After Atlantic Records' co-chairman got hold of a demo tape of Tori's solo recordings, he was impressed by her songwriting and sound and saw potential for her music in the UK. Tori moved to London and got to work on songwriting and composing. The fruit of her labor was her debut solo album entitled Little Earthquakes, released in 1992.
With singles such as "Silent All These Years", "Crucify" and "Winter", and a chilling "Me and a Gun" (about her personal brush with rape), the album went double platinum. She followed this up with her sophomore album, Under The Pink, two years later.
Questioning femininity and exploring daring ideas, Under the Pink was a critical success, with singles such as "God" and "Cornflake Girl". Her third foray into music, Boys for Pele is a darker album, and followed Tori's breakup with her boyfriend and co-producer, Eric Rosse.
Released in 1998, From The Choirgirl Hotel was inspired by her unfortunate miscarriage. Since From The Choirgirl Hotel, Tori has married British sound engineer Mark Hawley and released another album in September 1999 entitled, To Venus And Back.
Known for the sexual and erotic way that she plays the piano while in concert and for her radical and often rebellious lyrics, Tori has developed a huge fan base and much critical acclaim. She is the founder of RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network; she and her music have helped many women deal with rape, having been a rape victim herself.
Despite the tragedy Tori has seen in her life, she is now happily married, has just recently given birth to a baby girl, and continues to please her millions of fans -- earning some new ones along the way.