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San Francisco Examiner (US)
Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tori Amos finds spirit in 'Sin'

By Tom Lanham
Special to The Examiner

SAN FRANCISCO -- Tori Amos is aware of the statistic that roughly 75 to 80 percent of the Internet is taken up by sites that are exclusively pornographic.

That led the 45-year-old keyboardist to a conclusion she explores on her 10th solo set, "Abnormally Attracted to Sin"

She says, "Because so much sexuality is devoid of spirituality, we're starving. Starving to merge the two, but we don't know how. And I'm trying to practice it in my own life, but as a minister's daughter, it's been a long, hard road of battling ideology. Of exorcising it from my being."

Amos will be performing thoughtful new dissertations such as "Police Me" and "Strong Black Vine" when her Sinful Attraction tour hits the Bay Area twice next week.

She says there was there a crucial turning point when she traded her dad's scripture for the Cherokee teachings of her mom's side of the family.

Amos was only 5 years old when her paternal grandmother gave her some harsh advice.

"She said that a good, Christian young woman needs to understand that -- to live a life of worthiness -- you turn your soul over to God and your body to your husband when you marry," she said. "And I thought to myself, 'Jesus Christ! This is prison!' And I knew this was what I had to combat."

If Amos talked back, she was bombarded with hours of Bible readings.

So her war was waged in private, she recalls. "I would just write songs while she would talk to me. I'd create worlds and wormholes to jump through and get out."

She did escape, first with a childhood scholarship to the Peabody Conservatory of Music, later with her cathartic 1992 solo debut "Little Earthquakes," and finally via a move to Cornwall, England, where she currently maintains a home studio, Martian Engineering, with her husband Mark Hawley and 8-year-old daughter Tash.

In fighting the religious patriarchy, Amos has found solace in Buddhism, Native American mythology, and even the female-empowering Gnostic gospels.

"Plus, I've been touring the world and seeing how other women view their femininity," she says. "And there aren't a lot of French women, for instance, who feel they need to be vulgar to be sexy. Whereas in America sometimes, women who are trying to liberate themselves and tap into their sexuality just become really trashy."

That's what her "Sin" is seeking, Amos says -- no porn required. "Where's the balance between the puritanical and cheap, guttural trash? There is a balance, and I'm trying to find it. For myself."

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