Tori Amos was born Myra Ellen Amos in August 1963.
Raised, as Amos put it, with “a peace pipe in one hand and a cross in the other,” the daughter of a Cherokee mother and Methodist minister father redefined the role of female singer-songwriters in the 1990s by addressing persecution in religion, relationships, and sex with intriguing straightforwardness.
After her unsuccessful glam pop rock album Y Kant Tori Read (credited to her band of the same name) Tori went solo in 1991 and moved to the UK where she recorded the EP Me and a Gun. The title referred to an incident in which she was raped at knifepoint after a gig in Los Angeles.
Amos’s emotional directness was showcased on her 1991 debut album, Little Earthquakes, though it was her second album, Under The Pink (1994) which took her to the top.
The major labels had been apprehensive about the direction Amos had chosen to pursue as a solo artist, however. Piano-playing singer-songwriters were perceived to be somewhat passé and had a low currency in the early 90s.
There was nothing old-feeling however, about the themes of Amos’ music, and she certainly wasn’t the “female Elton John” of Atlantic’s marketing strategy.
Amos recorded an intriguing piano and voice reading of Nirvana‘s Smells Like Teen Spirit and the huge success of her eerie Cornflake Girl single (1993) established her as a kind of Kate Bush for the grunge generation.