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The Telegraph (UK)
October 25, 2003

Class act:

The teacher who inspired . . . Tori Amos

I had the best year of my life when Ms Barrett taught 11th grade English at Richard Montgomery High School in Georgetown, Washington DC.

She was young, but seemed timeless because she was quite ferocious and very controlled. She took me to new places in my imagination, with writers such as Tennessee Williams, Rimbaud, Baudelaire and Plath.

Although I wasn't an unworldly Little House on the Prairie kind of girl, she shocked me. As a minister's daughter, I loved it.

I always wanted to be a composer. Ms Barrett told me: "Don't just arm yourself with Pat Benatar, take Virginia Woolf, too." I could play the piano from the age of two, and at 13 I was playing piano bars six nights a week. I made more than $500 a week.

With Ms Barrett, I worked harder than I had ever worked before. I wasn't going to give up my job, so she had a chat with me. She said: "You're better than a C and you're going to raise that grade."

Ms Barrett came to one of my shows recently and I cried. She told me that she has been teaching my work.

Interview by Judy Parkinson
Tori Amos's compilation album, 'Tales of a Librarian', is released next month.

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