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February 12, 2005

National Nine News
Entertainment

Amos takes leaders to task with album

Socially conscious songstress Tori Amos has used her latest album Beekeeper to take political and religious leaders to task.

The 41-year-old daughter of a Methodist minister said her songwriting was her attempt to correct the way certain leaders were using biblical symbolism.

"I didn't feel that some of these leaders were using this in the way that Jesus was using these symbols. I felt that they were misusing them," the UK-based American said by phone.

"Naturally this is only my minister's daughter opinion, but I'd been brought up in the Church and that was just offensive to me that some very good people, I felt, were being emotionally blackmailed by their faith."

Amos caught the attention of mainstream Australian pop listeners with her hit Cornflake Girl back in 1994 and subsequent dance hit Professional Widow.

Beekeeper, which will be released in Australia on February 27, is her ninth album.

The metaphors flow thick and fast throughout the phone interview as Amos talks about the inspirations behind her compositions and her use of the theme of a Beekeeper's garden to tie the album's 19 tracks together.

"I'm in north Cornwall right now where I wrote it and I guess being here had a huge influence on the compositions," she said.

"There's a beekeeping tradition within the Celts and the Welsh that has sustained all the invasions that this little island has had to take on board and I think that it spoke to me."

Amos was born in North Carolina but raised in Maryland. By the age of four, she was singing and playing piano in the church choir.

Amos won a scholarship to Baltimore's Peabody Conservatory and while studying became infatuated with rock and roll, particularly the music of Led Zeppelin.

In 1987, Amos signed to Atlantic Records, recording her first album called Y Kant Tori Read.

She went on to make several albums with the label and in 2002 signed to Epic records, a sub-group of Sony BMG Entertainment.

Amos sees herself as a composer first and her artistic integrity has at times put her at odds with record company management.

"Sometimes you have to go up against the cheeses in your life," she says of difficult industry types.

"Would I have played that chess game differently?" she asks of her career to date. "Ever so slightly, but not that much. I might have used a different phraseology but it still would have been the same intention."

Now that she's in her 40s Amos has figured out that living every moment is the way to go.

"I like being in my 40s. I really do. I didn't know how I was going to feel about it, but I really like it.

"As you start to be present in your life, just live every moment, you're not worrying so much about next week. I plan things, clearly, but things are going to be how they are going to be.

"There is nothing I can do to stop the fates from knocking on my door, all I can do is choose how I will respond. I do have that choice. And so in a way that has made me totally comfortable in my own life and yet it has been liberating at the same time. You don't have to control anything any more."


Meanwhile Amos says she's keen to visit Australia some time this year, but first has to work out how to survive the long-haul flight with her four-year-old daughter.

The trip, she said, may have to involve lots of bribes and promises of good DVDs to watch on the plane.

"In some ways this might sound crazy, but on the big flights like that, it was easier when she was 12 months old because then she was little and she would sleep all the time."

It's been a while since Amos's last visit, well before her daughter was born, but she says she "adores" Down Under.

"You know it reminds me of a dish that you wouldn't find anywhere else, with ingredients that you wouldn't find anywhere else. You know it's savoury and sweet at the same time. So yes I would like to taste that again."


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