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Seven Days (Australia)
July 26, 2014
AMOS makes her stand
The Cornflake Girl has turned 50, a fact she unrepentantly embraces on her latest album. Harvey Raw reports.
Tori Amos celebrated her 50th birthday last year. The North Carolina-born songstress talks freely and fondly about her age, seeing it as achievement rather than something to hide.
Speaking from Istanbul about her new album Unrepentant Geraldines and the one-woman show she's currently touring -- just announced to hit Perth on November 18 -- Amos explains that the album's title is derived from a 19th century painting of a figure from Irish mythology.
"I saw this drawing of Geraldine, looking up at the Mother Mary, and she was very penitent and it reminded me of the Repentant Magdalene paintings over the past few hundred years," Amos says.
"I thought, right, for so long women have been repentant in these paintings and in some places in the world still have to be ashamed of what they're thinking before they're even thinking it, and I thought 'No, I'm going to be 50: unrepentant'."
She explored this theme throughout the new album, particularly on 16 Shades of Blue which addresses her teenage daughter Natashya Lorien Hawley's coming of age as well as Amos' own journey to impenitence.
"That's where I need to be at 50 -- no more apologies. That doesn't mean that you don't say you're sorry for something you regret saying to somebody. But your beliefs, and where you stand, is where you stand. Particularly when you're 50. You better know what you think.
"And that doesn't mean next week I won't have learnt something and changed my mind or expanded my viewpoint and you don't have to apologise for that, that's called learning and growing. Sometimes people won't allow themselves to change because they feel like it negates their position last week. 'But last week you said blah blah'.
"My view is that when you're 50 you say 'Yeah I did, and I've grown a lot in a week. Teenagers have taught me that I needed to expand my viewpoint and so this week I'm more expanded'. And next week I might think differently and I'm not going to apologise for that."
The daughter of a Methodist minister, from a young age Amos sought out alternative mythologies and belief systems to create her own constructs, leaning on her Eastern Cherokee bloodline to complement her Christian upbringing.
"The Native American spiritual tradition has had a huge effect on me because they talk about medicines," she says. "Good medicine, bad medicine and sometimes in understanding what is wrong you have to -- I talk about peeling the onion -- get to the truth."
Since the 1992 release of her debut album Little Earthquakes, fans have seen this evolve to incorporate elements of everything from feminism to fantasy. Boasting an impressive nine Top 20 albums in Australia, including the platinum-selling 1996 outing Boys for Pele, Amos is forever looking to grown and learn from other stories, cultures and age groups to develop her own belief system.
"I don't think there's an ideology that really works for me. I think you find truth in many different cultures and moments. You have to keep reading and listening -- it's about listening.
"There has been a systematic disempowerment that has happened through many religions towards the masses. It's not just religions; it's governments who don't want an empowered population speaking for itself. People are not encouraged to find their own faith and build their own faith systems based on a global influence.
"There's a huge shaming element out there. And it's not just religious shame; it's financial shame, it's all kinds of shame. About winning and losing. We have a shame about us if we feel like we lose. So a lot of people are invalidated in life and what I've noticed on my travels is there's not a lot of compassion for us making a mistake."
As in her unforgettable turn at Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre's Riverside Theatre in 2009, Amos will perform completely solo. Unlike last time, it's not just Australia but rather the whole world getting the one-woman Unrepentant Geraldines Tour and Amos is set to be well practiced by the time she reaches Perth.
"It's a one-woman show, because my daughter said to me 'You are 50 and you can rock. You got to go rock, Mum, and you have to be as powerful as you were 20 years ago. You're not 80, so go out there on your own and rock it and show that 50 is just as powerful as 30'," Amos says. "It's a one-woman show and I'm rocking."
Unrepentant Geraldines it out now. Tori Amos plays Riverside Theatre on November 18. Tickets on sale July 18 from Ticketek outlets.
[transcribed by jason/yessaid]
t o r i p h o r i a
the World of Tori Amos