This summer will see a strong showing by international artists. Luckily, this includes a show by American pianist/singer/songwriter Tori Amos, who plays Ra'anana on Saturday night as part of her American Doll Posse world tour.
Raised in Baltimore, Amos began playing piano at two and a half. By five, she was composing her own music and at nine was writing her own lyrics. Her talent secured her a full scholarship to the Peabody Conservatory at the age of five, but her formal education was discontinued six years later due to her fascination with rock and roll - a decided no-no in the classical world. Two years later Amos began playing extensively in the Baltimore-area piano bar scene, chaperoned by her father, a Methodist preacher.
During high school a friend told her she looked more like a Tori than Myra Ellen, her given name. Taking the advice, she changed her name and moved to L.A. shortly afterward in search of that highly coveted record contract - which she obtained soon after arriving.
Amos put together a band called Y Kant Tori Read, and it released its debut, self-titled album on Atlantic Records - the first of a six-album contract. When the new wave project flopped, she ditched the band, and four years later, in 1992, released her solo debut, Little Earthquakes. Touted as the heir to Joni Mitchell and even as a female version of Elton John, Amos' second album earned her much critical success, in particular for the single "Crucify," which is still one of her most recognizable hits. In 1994, she released Under the Pink, which drew heavily on her classical training and featured the singles "Cornflake Girl" and "Past the Mission," which featured, on vocals, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, a band also scheduled to perform in Israel this September.
Building on her success, Amos helped found the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). Among other things, RAINN offers a toll-free national line that connects each caller with his or her local rape crisis center.
For the remainder of her time with Atlantic Records, Amos released Boys for Pele in 1996, inspired by time spent in Hawaii studying the volcano goddess Pele; and Strange Little Girls in 2001, a cover album of songs written by men about women, reworked from the female perspective. It was in support of this album that Amos performed Tom Waits' "Time" on The Late Show with David Letterman just one week after the September 11 attacks, when most artists were avoiding such public appearances.
Switching over to the Sony/Epic label, Amos released Scarlet's Walk, her eighth album. Of particular note are the innovative steps she took to curb illegal distribution. Promotional copies were sealed in portable disc players that, if forced opened, would destroy the player and the disc. Upon its commercial release, the album, when inserted into a computer, acted as a key for the accompanying website, Scarlet's Web, where additional songs became available for download. Not only were such tactics copied within the industry, but the album itself was a huge commercial success, making it into America's Top Ten.
Amos' current tour promotes her most recent album American Doll Posse. Released this past May, it debuted in the US at number five on the pop charts, and this tour is her first since 1999 to include a band. Posse is also innovative in its psychological components, with Amos having written and recorded the songs as five different female characters combining to offer one complete voice. She writes on her website that this is a metaphor depicting how females have been "dismembered, literally and figuratively, by the ruling patriarchy."
Explaining the striking images on her album cover (reproduced on Billboard's cover this week), Amos told the New York Post, "The preacher's daughter in me is just asking [in that photo] where women stand in Christianity... What do theologians abhor more than anything else? They believe in the father God, the authoritative male image. I thought, OK, I'll bring on the mother God."
But why, asked the Post interviewer, the use of the Bible, why the word "shame" on her palm and what gives with the blood dripping down her leg? "In Christian mythology," she responded, "the two main female figures are Mary and Mary. One is the mother, who is stripped of her sexuality, and the other is a woman who has her sexuality, but no sacredness or respect. I'm trying to illustrate that duality."
Tori Amos is scheduled to appear at the Ra'anana Amphitheater tomorrow night, July 21, at 8:45 p.m. Admission starts at the outrageous price of NIS 320, with NIS 370 and NIS 400 tickets for sale on the Castel website (www.tkts.co.il) or by calling (03) 604-5000.