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Lennox, Annie

Annie Lennox

Singer

She has appeared on stage as a blonde glamour queen, a sideburned Elvis imitator, and a dominatrix Minnie Mouse; but unlike some pop stars who hide a lack of talent behind their controversial costuming, Annie Lennox is also a gifted and powerful singer. The Scottish-born, classically trained performer first gained national attention in the duo the Eurythmics, one of the most influential pop acts of the 1980s. Together with partner Dave Stewart, Lennox created an eerie, brooding music that embraced passion and detachment, optimism and despair. After the demise of the Eurythmics, Lennox proved her talent as a solo performer with the platinum-selling albums Diva and Medusa. Although her stage presence is commanding, the often-contradictory Lennox describes herself as a retiring person, whose ultimate goal is to drop out of the public eye. "There's so much I haven't done," Terry Smith quoted her as saying in People. "I'd like to paint. I'd like to study philosophy. I'd like to bake."

Lennox has traveled a long road to fame and fortune. She grew up in the port city of Aberdeen, Scotland, where her family lived in a working-class neighborhood. Her father, a shipyard worker, loved music and was a talented bagpipe player. He encouraged his daughter to study flute and piano, and by the age of 17, she had won a scholarship to the prestigious Royal Academy of Music in London. Her three years there were not happy ones, however. "I hated it," she was quoted as saying in Rolling Stone, and to a Spin contributor, she confided, "All the boys were gay and all the girls thought they were Maria Callas." In her London flat, she worked on her own compositions and singing, and explored new musical territory. She discovered the work of two musicians who would greatly influence her: Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder. She told Barbara Pepe in Ms. that she aspired to "that depth of subtlety and profound statement through music" such as that created by Wonder. Lennox also continued to listen to the Scottish folk songs she'd loved since childhood.

Three days before her final exams at the Academy, Lennox suddenly walked out, never to return. For the next few years, she worked a series of odd jobsmostly waitressingwhile singing with numerous groups, none of them well known. By 1977, she was close to abandoning her dreams of making it as a singer-songwriter; instead, she planned to start a career as a music teacher. Just before she made that change, however, a man named Dave Stewart came into the London restaurant where Lennox was working.

Stewart was another struggling musician, whose experience ranged from medieval music to the songs of Bob Dylan. Dedicating himself to music at the age of 15, he had succeeded in working with several moderately successful groups, but his career stalled after problems with drugs and a serious automobile accident. At the time he met Lennox, he and a singer-songwriter named Peet Coombs were trying to find work in London. There was instant chemistry between Lennox and Stewart, and she invited the two men back to her apartment and began to play for them on her wooden harmonium. "She was straight from classical," Stewart recalled to Rolling Stone. "She didn't know anything about pop groups. But I heard her sing and we started celebrating. Then we went out to this club, and from that moment on, Annie and I lived together, and we made music together, for about four years."

With Coombs, Lennox and Stewart started a group called Catch, later renamed the Tourists. The Tourists were fairly successful in some respects, recording three albums and touring all over the world. They made no money, however, and their only big hit was a 1979 remake of Dusty Springfield's "I Only Want to Be with You." Strangely enough, that one hit led to the demise of the Tourists. Critics savaged them, believing that the group had sold out to the oldies market. Disillusioned and embroiled in disputes with their recording label, they disbanded in 1980.

The romantic relationship between Stewart and Lennox was also crumbling, and they took up separate residences at about the same time that the Tourists ceased to exist. They agreed that their musical relationship was as intense as ever, however, and they remained good friends; accordingly, they made a fresh start as a duo. They named themselves the Eurythmics and recorded their first album in a West German studio. Their album titled In the Garden was never released in the United States and failed to do much on the English charts. Stewart had undergone lung surgery at the time of its release and was unable to promote the album.

Unhappy with their management, Lennox and Stewart next decided to create their own recording studio. It was first housed in an attic warehouse, but eventually moved to a sixteenth-century church in London. There, Stewart began experimenting with unusual musical sounds and a wide variety of instruments and synthesizer techniques. One day, after a nasty argument, the pair was working in their studio, not speaking to each other. Stewart began programming a drum rhythm into his synthesizer, and the music he produced caught Lennox's ear. Words came to her and she began to sing, and their first top ten hit was born. "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" became the title track to their second album, released in 1983, and was the song that shot the Eurythmics to international celebrity. The sound bore the mark of New Wave and funk influences, and Lennox's vocals were brooding and piercing. Stewart explained to Stephen Holden in the New York Times, "In our music we like to have the sense of two things battling at once. You have to have something that sounds nice on the surface, but underneath there's an ominous side." "Sweet Dreams" embodied this philosophy.

For the Record

Born on December 25, 1954, in Aberdeen, Scotland; daughter of a shipyard worker and a cook; married Radha Raman, 1984; divorced, 1985; married Uri Fruchtman (a filmmaker), 1987; children: Daniel (deceased), Lola, Tali. Education: Studied flute, piano, and harpsichord at Royal Academy of Music, London, England, for three years.

Member of musical groups Catch and The Tourists, 1977-80; founder and member of musical group the Eurythmics, 1980-90; with the Eurythmics, released In the Garden, 1982; Sweet Dreams, 1983; Touch, 1984; Revenge, 1986; Savage, 1988; We Too Are One, 1989; Peace, 1999; solo performer, 1990; released solo albums Diva, 1992; Medusa, 1995; Bare, 2003.

Awards: BRIT Awards, Best British Female Artist, 1984, 1986, 1989, 1990; Grammy Award, Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group (with the Eurythmics) for "Missionary Man," 1986; Grammy Award, Best Music Video (Long Form) for "Diva," 1992; MTV Music Award, Best Female Video for "Why," 1993; BRIT Awards, Best British Album and Best British Female Artist, 1994; Grammy Award, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "No More 'I Love You's,'" 1995; BRIT Award, Best Female Artist, 1996; BRIT Award, Lifetime Achievement for Outstanding Contribution to the the British Music Industry (with the Eurythmics), 1999; Bill board 2002 Billboard Century Award, 2002; Academy Award, Best Original Song for "Into the West" from Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, 2004.

Addresses: Record company J-Records, 745 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10151, website: http://www.jrecords.com. Website Annie Lennox Official Website: http://www.alennox.net.

Touch, released in 1984, yielded more hit singles, including "Here Comes the Rain Again" and "Right by Your Side." That was also the year Lennox shocked many with her appearance at the Grammy Awards. Through videos, she had become known for her short, orange-dyed hairan onstage look she had adopted after an audience member had snatched a long, black wig from her head at a London nightclub. At the Grammys, she walked onstage to sing "Sweet Dreams" dressed as Elvis Presley, complete with sideburns. Lennox has explained that her transvestitism, often compared to that of David Bowie, is simply a reaction to the tacky, sex-kitten image so frequently exploited by female singers. Although she established herself with a mannish look, she also explored glamorous, more typically feminine presentations, and was named one of the "Ten Most Beautiful Women in the World" by Playboy magazine in 1983.

Lennox had long been troubled by serious bouts of depression. In 1984, she also developed a recurring problem with her vocal cords, forcing her to rest her voice as much as possible. While in Germany on a world tour, she met Radha Raman, a German man attached to the Hare Krishna movement. He and a group of other Krishnas served the Eurythmics a special vegetarian dinner and gave Lennox a homeopathic cure for her throat, then began accompanying the duo through Europe. In New York the following year, Lennox and Raman were married, but the union lasted just 14 months.

Despite her personal problems, Lennox's creativity was at a high point. Known at first for her cold, detached sound, the Eurythmics' music demonstrated more soul with each album they released. Be Yourself Tonight featured Lennox holding her own in a duet with Aretha Franklin in the feminist anthem "Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves." David Gates, writing in Esquire, named Lennox "one of the great white soul singers: out of Aretha by way of such Seventies disco divas as Donna Summer." Touch and Be Yourself Tonight both went platinum, but although critics continued to laud the Eurythmics' work, their popularity began to decline after 1985.

"Eurythmics was a very changeable beast," Lennox was quoted as saying in a Rolling Stone article by David Sinclair, "and in America, when things change too much, they don't know what to make of it. Because one minute they might get 'Would I Lie to You?'which they can put in an R&B slot or heavy rockand then we'd do another song, like 'Beethoven (I Love to Listen To)' [from Savage ], which was a lot different, and they didn't quite know how to deal with us." Lennox's partnership with Stewart was also deteriorating, and although the duo never officially disbanded, after their 1990 tour, Lennox "simply went home to her London townhouse, got pregnant [with second husband, film-maker Uri Fruchtman, whom she married in 1987], and began writing songs by herself for the first time since hooking up with Stewart," according to Gates.

Regarding the end of the Eurythmics, Lennox said to Sinclair: "Who cares if a group is together or not? Does it matter? To me, making a big, elaborate statement like 'We have broken up'we never discussed it. We haven't written it down in blood or ink. [But] I don't want to go back. I don't want to retread. I was there for ten years. Why should I go back? It would be like an emotional regression." Her first solo album was the 1992 release Diva, described by Gates as "a stylized self-portrait, a moody piece of work that can fasten onto and color a few months of your life." Discussing her work on the album with Gates, Lennox remarked on the difficulties of working without her former partner. Despite the frictions between them, he had always given her a great deal of encouragement and constructive criticism. "I was the one wandering around saying, 'Never, never, never,'" she recalled, "and he'd be going, 'Oh come on, this is great.'"

"Fortunately, she thought positively enough to get the job done," Gates related, "but not so positively as to screw up what could turn out to be one of the canonical soundtracks to the century's end game." A Nation reviewer offered a less enthusiastic assessment of Diva, dismissing it as "pricey radio-ready schlock" even while admitting that the singer's "vocal instrument is still awesome and outsized." Lennox's fans showed what they thought of her solo effort by buying enough copies to make it go platinum, even though she refused to tour to support the albumpartly because of her continuing throat problems, but mostly because of her commitment to her daughter Lola, then an infant. "I don't want to have my child trailing around with me," she asserted to Gates. "It's just unfair."

That decision was indicative of the great change that Lennox's second marriage had worked in her life. Once known as moody, rootless, and unhappy, she became increasingly stable, secure, and content, even in the face of such challenges as the stillbirth of her first child, Daniel. "My children are the focus of my life," she declared to Terry Smith in People, but music remained enough of a force for her to put out a second solo album, Medusa, in 1995. It was made up of cover versions of songs by artists as diverse as Neil Young, Bob Marley, and the Temptations.

Numerous reviewers credited Lennox with bringing fresh insights to the tunes. "The fact that she didn't write any of the songs on Medusa will likely be taken as a sign that she has mellowed," predicted a Vanity Fair writer. "Far from it. For although Diva revealed her to be a great songwritercapable of both melancholy and self-mockeryMedusa shows her finally without guise. It is Annie Lennox stripped down. The only thing you hear is the imprint of her voice on the music of Bob Marley, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Neil Young, and the Temptations. The choices are alternately surprising and obscure. And her vocal stylings are so distinctive that she transforms the songs into personal statements." "Medusa is more than just diva worthy," concurred Elysa Gardner in Rolling Stone. "It's proof that a great singer doesn't need a pen or a computer to be creative."

With her success as a solo performer well established, Lennox remained vague about her plans for the future. Emphasizing again in Vanity Fair that "having children does really shed a different light on things," she went on to say: "First of all, you have to stop putting yourself as number one, because you're not anymore. Somebody else is for a while. Their needs are more important at three A.M." She concluded, "It could be that after this album [Medusa ] I do nothing. I like that. I don't want to put myself in this category of saying, 'Well, my life depends on being a creative person'."

However, in 1999 Lennox and Stewart reunited for a tour and released the album, Peace. Though the record wasn't poorly received, it didn't quite put the Eurythmics back on the musical map so much as serve as a nostalgia trip for their fans. The tour itself, though, was a great success.

In 2003, Lennox released Bare, her third solo album, and in the record's liner notes stated: "This album contains songs that are deeply personal and emotional. In a sense I have 'exposed' myself through the work to reveal aspects of an inner world that are fragile broken through experience but not entirely smashed. I am not a young artist in their [sic] twenties. I am a mature woman facing up to the failed expectations of life and facing up to 'core' issues." The record, nominated for the Best Pop Vocal Category at the Grammys that year, signified a new direction for the matured artist. When asked about turning 50 in 2004 by Time magazine, she replied, "It's like having a grit in a shoe that you never quite get rid of. One wouldn't want to have the same dilemmas at 50 as one had at 15. And indeed I don't. I have a very different take on life. And yet I still have the same passion for music-making and for expression."

Undoubtedly, her passion never left. At the 76th Academy Awards, Lennox performed and took home the award for Best Song for her writing and vocal contributions to "Into the West" from Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

Selected discography

Solo

Diva, Arista, 1992.

Medusa, Arista, 1995.

Bare, J-Records, 2003.

With the Eurythmics

In the Garden, RCA, 1982.

Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), RCA, 1983.

Touch, RCA, 1984.

Eurythmics: 1984 (For the Love of Big Brother), RCA, 1984.

Be Yourself Tonight, RCA, 1985.

Revenge, RCA, 1986.

Savage, RCA, 1988.

We Too Are One, Arista, 1989.

Greatest Hits, RCA, 1991.

Peace, Arista, 1999.

Sources

Books

Hill, Dave, Designing Boys and Material Girls: Manufacturing the '80s Pop Dream, Blandford, 1986.

Stambler, Irwin, The Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock and Soul, revised edition, St. Martin's, 1989.

White, Timothy, Rock Stars, Stewart, Tabori, and Chang, 1984.

Periodicals

Creem, July 1984; August 1985; September 1985; December 1986.

Esquire, July 1992, p. 82.

High Fidelity, April 1985; May 1988.

Los Angeles Times, August 2, 1986.

Maclean's, May 11, 1992, p. 54.

Melody Maker, January 29, 1983; July 9, 1983; November 19, 1983; May 4, 1985; November 22, 1986.

Ms., February 1986.

Musician, November 1983; July 1985; November 1985; August 1986.

Nation, July 6, 1992, p. 31.

New Yorker, March 14, 1988, p. 82.

New York Times, July 17, 1983; February 5, 1984; August 3, 1984; September 3, 1989; November 12, 1989.

People, August 22, 1983; December 19, 1983; March 12, 1984; May 20, 1985; November 27, 1989; June 10, 1985; August 7, 1995, p. 103.

Playboy, April 1984.

Q, May 1991.

Rolling Stone, June 23, 1983; September 29, 1983; June 20, 1985; October 24, 1985; September 11, 1986; March 4, 1993, p. 58; April 20, 1995, p. 70; November 2, 1995, p. 28.

Spin, August, 1985.

Stereo Review, October 1984; September 1985; January 1990.

Time, June 23, 1984; September 30, 1985; February 16, 2004.

Vanity Fair, March, 1995, p. 170.

Wall Street Journal, January 19, 1984.

Washington Post, March 21, 1984; January 10, 1985.

Joan Goldsworthy and

Ken Taylor

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Lennox, Annie

Annie Lennox

Singer

She Was Straight from Classical

Conflict Leads to Sweet Dreams

Depression and Creativity

No Emotional Regressions

Stable, Secure, Content

Selected discography

Sources

She has appeared on stage as a blonde glamour queen, a sideburned Elvis imitator, and a domina-trix Minnie Mouse; but unlike some pop stars who hide a lack of talent behind their controversial costuming, Annie Lennox is also a gifted and powerful singer. The Scottish-born, classically trained performer first gained national attention in the duo the Eurythmics, one of the most influential pop acts of the 1980s. Together with partner Dave Stewart, Lennox created an eerie, brooding music that embraced passion and detachment, optimism and despair. After the demise of the Eurythmics, Lennox proved her talent as a solo performer with the platinum-selling albums Diva and Medusa. Although her stage presence is commanding, the often-contradictory Lennox describes herself as a retiring person, whose ultimate goal is to drop out of the public eye. Theres so much I havent done, Terry Smith quoted her as saying in People. Id like to paint. Id like to study philosophy. Id like to bake.

Lennox has traveled a long road to fame and fortune. She grew up in the port city of Aberdeen, Scotland, where her family lived in a working-class neighborhood. Her father, a shipyard worker, loved music and was a talented bagpipe player. He encouraged his daughter to study flute and piano, and by the age of 17, she had won a scholarship to the prestigious Royal Academy of Music in London. Her three years there were not happy ones, however. I hated it, she was quoted as saying in Rolling Stone, and to a Spin contributor, she confided, All the boys were gay and all the girls thought they were Maria Callas. In her London flat, she worked on her own compositions and singing, and explored new musical territory. She discovered the work of two musicians who would greatly influence her: Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder. She told Barbara Pepe in Ms.that she aspired to that depth of subtlety and profound statement through music such as that created by Wonder. Lennox also continued to listen to the Scottish folk songs shed loved since childhood.

She Was Straight from Classical

Three days before her final exams at the Academy, Lennox suddenly walked out, never to return. For the next few years, she worked a series of odd jobsmostly waitressingwhile singing with numerous groups, none of them well-known. By 1977, she was close to abandoning her dreams of making it as a singer-songwriter; instead, she planned to start a career as a music teacher. Just before she made that change, however, a man named Dave Stewart came into the London restaurant where Lennox was working.

For the Record

Born December 25, 1954, in Aberdeen, Scotland; daughter of a shipyard worker and a cook; married Radha Raman, March, 1984 (divorced, 1985); married Uri Fruchtman (a filmmaker), 1987; children: Daniel (deceased), Lola, Tali. Education: Studied flute, piano, and harpsichord at Royal Academy of Music, London, England, for three years.

Member of musical groups Catch and The Tourists, 1977-80; founder and member of musical group Euryth-mics, 1980-90; solo performer, 1990. Appeared in film Revolution.

Awards: Grammy Award nominations for best new artist, 1984, and, with the Eurythmics, for best rock performance by a duo or group, 1986; three Grammy Award nominations, 1992, for Diva; voted best female singer in a Rolling Stone readers poll.

Addresses: Home London, England; and Majorca, Spain. Officec/o RCA Records, 1133 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036-6710.

Stewart was another struggling musician, whose experience ranged from medieval music to the songs of Bob Dylan. Dedicating himself to music at the age of 15, he had succeeded in working with several moderately successful groups, but his career stalled after problems with drugs and a serious automobile accident. At the time he met Lennox, he and a singer-songwriter named Peet Coombs were trying to find work in London. There was instant chemistry between Lennox and Stewart, and she invited the two men back to her apartment and began to play for them on her wooden harmonium. She was straight from classical, Stewart recalled to Rolling Stone. She didnt know anything about pop groups. But I heard her sing and we started celebrating. Then we went out to this club, and from that moment on, Annie and I lived together, and we made music together, for about four years.

With Coombs, Lennox and Stewart started a group called Catch, later renamed the Tourists. The Tourists were fairly successful in some respects, recording three albums and touring all over the world. They made no money, however, and their only big hit was a 1979 remake of Dusty Springfields I Only Want to Be with You. Strangely enough, that one hit led to the demise of the Tourists. Critics savaged them, believing that the group had sold out to the oldies market. Disillusioned and embroiled in disputes with their recording label, they disbanded in 1980.

Conflict Leads to Sweet Dreams

The romantic relationship between Stewart and Lennox was also crumbling, and they took up separate residences at about the same time that the Tourists ceased to exist. They agreed that their musical relationship was as intense as ever, however, and they remained good friends; accordingly, they made a fresh start as a duo. They named themselves the Eurhythmies and recorded their first album in a West German studio. Their album titled In the Garden was never released in the United States and failed to do much on the English charts. Stewart had undergone lung surgery at the time of its release and was unable to promote the album.

Unhappy with their management, Lennox and Stewart next decided to create their own recording studio. It was first housed in an attic warehouse, but eventually moved to a sixteenth-century church in London. There, Stewart began experimenting with unusual musical sounds and a wide variety of instruments and synthesizer techniques. One day, after a nasty argument, the pair was working in their studio, not speaking to each other. Stewart began programming a drum rhythm into his synthesizer, and the music he produced caught Lennoxs ear. Words came to her and she began to sing, and their first top ten hit was born. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) became the title track to their second album, released in 1983, and was the song that shot the Eurhythmies to international celebrity. The sound bore the mark of New Wave and funk influences, and Lennoxs vocals were brooding and piercing. Stewart explained to Stephen Holden in the New York Times, In our music we like to have the sense of two things battling at once. You have to have something that sounds nice on the surface, but underneath theres an ominous side. Sweet Dreams embodied this philosophy.

Touch, released in 1984, yielded more hit singles, including Here Comes the Rain Again and Right by Your Side. That was also the year Lennox shocked many with her appearance at the Grammy Awards. Through videos, she had become known for her short, orange-dyed hairan onstage look she had adopted after an audience member had snatched a long, black wig from her head at a London nightclub. At the Grammys, she walked onstage to sing Sweet Dreams dressed as Elvis Presley, complete with sideburns. Lennox has explained that her transvestism, often compared to that of David Bowie, is simply a reaction to the tacky, sex-kitten image so frequently exploited by female singers. Although she established herself with a mannish look, in later years she also explored glamorous, more typically feminine presentations, and was named one of the ten most beautiful women in the world by Playboy magazine in 1983.

Depression and Creativity

Lennox had long been troubled by serious bouts of depression. In 1984, she also developed a recurring problem with her vocal cords, forcing her to rest her voice as much as possible. While in Germany on a world tour, she met Radha Raman, a German man attached to the Hare Krishna movement. He and a group of other Krishnas served the Eurhythmies a special vegetarian dinner and gave Lennox a homeopathic cure for her throat, then began accompanying the duo through Europe. In New York the following year, Lennox and Raman were married, but the union lasted just 14 months.

Despite her personal problems, Lennoxs creativity was at a high point. Known at first for her cold, detached sound, the Eurhythmies music demonstrated more soul with each album they released. Be Yourself Tonight featured Lennox holding her own in a duet with Aretha Franklin in the feminist anthem Sisters Are Doin It For Themselves. David Gates, writing in Esquire, named Lennox one of the great white soul singers: out of Aretha by way of such Seventies disco divas as Donna Summer. Touch and Be Yourself Tonight both went platinum, but although critics continued to laud the Eurhythmies work, their popularity began to decline after 1985.

Eurythmics was a very changeable beast, Lennox was quoted as saying in a Rolling Stone article by David Sinclair, and in America, when things change too much, they dont know what to make of it. Because one minute they might getWould I Lie to You?which they can put in an R&B slot or heavy rockand then wed do another song, likeBeethoven (I Love to Listen To) [from Savage], which was a lot different, and they didnt quite know how to deal with us. Lennoxs partnership with Stewart was also deteriorating, and although the duo never officially disbanded, after their 1990 tour, Lennox simply went home to her London townhouse, got pregnant [with second husband, filmmaker Uri Fruchtman, whom she married in 1987], and began writing songs by herself for the first time since hooking up with Stewart, according to Gates.

No Emotional Regressions

Regarding the end of the Eurythmics, Lennox said to Sinclair: Who cares if a group is together or not? Does it matter? To me, making a big, elaborate statement like We have broken upwe never discussed it. We havent written it down in blood or ink.[But] I dont want to go back. I dont want to retread. I was there for ten years. Why should I go back? It would be like an emotional regression. Her first solo album was the 1992 release Diva, described by Gates as a stylized self-portrait, a moody piece of work that can fasten onto and color a few months of your life. Discussing her work on the album with Gates, Lennox remarked on the difficulties of working without her former partner. Despite the frictions between them, he had always given her a great deal of encouragement and constructive criticism. I was the one wandering around saying, Never, never, never, she recalled, and hed be going, Oh come on, this is great.

Fortunately, she thought positively enough to get the job done, Gates related, but not so positively as to screw up what could turn out to be one of the canonical soundtracks to the centurys end game. A Nation reviewer offered a less enthusiastic assessment of Diva, dismissing it as pricey radio-ready schlock even while admitting that the singers vocal instrument is still awesome and outsized. Lennoxs fans showed what they thought of her solo effort by buying enough copies to make it go platinum, even though she refused to tour to support the albumpartly because of her continuing throat problems, but mostly because of her commitment to her daughter Lola, then an infant. I dont want to have my child trailing around with me, she asserted to Gates. Its just unfair.

Stable, Secure, Content

That decision was indicative of the great change that Lennoxs second marriage had worked in her life. Once known as moody, rootless, and unhappy, she became increasingly stable, secure, and content, even in the face of such challenges as the stillbirth of her first child, Daniel. My children are the focus of my life, she declared to Terry Smith in People, but music remained enough of a force for her to put out a second solo album, Medusa, in 1995. It was made up of cover versions of songs by artists as diverse as Neil Young, Bob Marley, and the Temptations.

Numerous reviewers credited Lennox with bringing fresh insights to the tunes. The fact that she didnt write any of the songs on Medusa will likely be taken as a sign that she has mellowed, predicted a Vanity Fair writer. Far from it. For although Diva revealed her to be a great songwritercapable of both melancholy and self-mockeryMedusa shows her finally without guise. It is Annie Lennox stripped down. The only thing you hear is the imprint of her voice on the music of Bob Marley, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Neil Young, and the Temptations. The choices are alternately surprising and obscure. And her vocal stylings are so distinctive that she transforms the songs into personal statements. Medusa is more than just diva worthy, concurred Elysa Gardner in Rolling Stone. Its proof that a great singer doesnt need a pen or a computer to be creative.

With her success as a solo performer well established, Lennox remains vague about her plans for the future. Emphasizing again in Vanity Fair that having children does really shed a different light on things, she went on to say: First of all, you have to stop putting yourself as number one, because youre not anymore. Somebody else is for a while. Their needs are more important at three A.M. She concluded, It could be that after this album [Medusa] I do nothingI like that. I dont want to put myself in this category of saying, Well, my life depends on being a creative person.

Selected discography

With the Eurythmics

In the Garden, RCA (United Kingdom), 1982.

Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), RCA, 1983.

Touch, RCA, 1984.

Eurythmics: 1984 (For the Love of Big Brother), 1984.

Be Yourself Tonight, RCA, 1985.

Revenge, RCA, 1986.

Savage, RCA, 1988.

We Too Are One, Arista, 1989.

Greatest Hits, RCA, 1991.

Solo albums

Diva, Arista, 1992.

Medusa, Arista, 1995.

Sources

Books

Hill, Dave, Designing Boys and Material Girls: Manufacturing the 80s Pop Dream, Blandford Press, 1986.

Stambler, Irwin, The Encyclopedia of Pop, Rock and Soul, revised edition, St. Martins, 1989.

White, Timothy, Rock Stars, Stewart, Tabori, and Chang, 1984.

Periodicals

Creem, July 1984; August 1985; September 1985; December 1986.

Esquire, July 1992, p. 82.

High Fidelity, April 1985; May 1988.

Los Angeles Times, August 2, 1986.

Macleans, May 11, 1992, p. 54.

Melody Maker, January 29, 1983; July 9, 1983; November 19, 1983; May 4, 1985; November 22, 1986.

Ms., February 1986.

Musician, November 1983; July 1985; November 1985; August 1986.

Nation, My 6, 1992, p. 31.

New Yorker, March 14, 1988, p. 82.

New York Times, July 17, 1983; February 5, 1984; August 3, 1984; September 3, 1989; November 12, 1989.

People, August 22, 1983; December 19, 1983; March 12, 1984; May 20, 1985; November 27, 1989; June 10, 1985; August 7, 1995, p. 103.

Playboy April 1984.

Q, May 1991.

Rolling Stone, June 23, 1983; September 29, 1983; June 20, 1985; October 24, 1985; September 11, 1986; March 4, 1993, p. 58; April 20, 1995, p. 70; November 2, 1995, p. 28.

Spin, August, 1985.

Stereo Review, October 1984; September 1985; January 1990.

Time, June 23, 1984; September 30, 1985.

Vanity Fair, March, 1995, p. 170.

Wall Street Journal, January 19, 1984.

Washington Post, March 21, 1984; January 10, 1985.

Joan Goldsworthy

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
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"Lennox, Annie." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Lennox, Annie

ANNIE LENNOX

Born: Aberdeen, Scotland, 25 December 1954

Genre: Rock

Best-selling album since 1990: Diva (1992)

Hit songs since 1990: "Why," "Walking on Broken Glass," "No More I Love You"


The Eurythmics stood out as one of the most colorful groups of the 1980s; they were a slick, synth pop group with a strong international following thanks to the efforts of Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox. The latter's appearances in music videos were groundbreaking for their time, provoking strong reactions from the media and public. For many, however, her teasing displays of sexual ambiguity were confusing. At the 1984 Grammy Awards, MTV demanded her birth certificate as proof that she was a woman when she appeared disguised as Elvis Presley with greased black hair and fake sideburns. Lennox's impersonations of both men and women demonstrated how a female pop artist could seek new forms of representation within the apparatus of music television. Following the release of the album We Too Are One (1989), which was a commercial let-down, Lennox announced that she would be leaving the group to have a child. In 1991 the Eurythmics quietly disbanded.

From an early age Lennox played flute and piano and advanced so well that she got into the Royal Academy of Music in London. However, the pressures and demands of a classical training became too much, and she left just prior to her final exams. More inspired by popular music, especially the sounds of Motown, she directed her energies to session singing. This led to the formation of a group, the Catch, in 1977, which later became the Tourists, whose members included Dave Stewart and Peet Coombes. They released three albums before breaking up on tour in Bangkok in 1980. It was at this stage that Lennox and Stewart formed the Eurythmics.

In the early 1990s after the breakup of the Eurythmics, Lennox embarked on a solo career with work on her debut album, Diva (1992). The material on this album caters to a more adult contemporary public. With the success of two singles from the album, "Walking on Broken Glass" and "Why," the Diva album sold millions of copies internationally and was nominated for three Grammy Awards. While "Walking on Broken Glass" is an up-tempo, aggressive, rock-driven number, "Why" is pensive and balladlike, with Lennox pouring her emotions into beautifully shaped, tuneful lyrics. These songs marked Lennox's arrival at a more mature and reflective style. Tapping into the synth-based pop and rock styles of the time, Lennox fashioned a sound that appealed to a wide audience. Above all, her powerful voice encompassed an extensive range of expressive nuances. The album's blend of electropop, rock, and R&B is testimony to Lennox's assuredness and versatility.

In promoting the album, Lennox continued to experiment with gender roles and to question notions of traditional femininity and masculinity through androgynous display. The image of her on the album coverheavily made up, with feather plumagechallenges the domain of male drag, suggesting that gender should take a back-seat to talent in pop music. In the promotional videos accompanying the album, the issue of gender-bending is central. Lennox masquerades as the character she actually seeks to reject. She draws on a range of characterizations, from the pretty little girl to the smirking femme fatale diva. These visual reference points help to draw out the musical expression and stylistic resources of her performances with Lennox breaking out of the constraints of traditional femininity to journey into a world of guises and masks.

The 1995 release of Lennox's second solo album, Medusa, was preceded by the hit single from the album, "No More I Love You." Lennox's voice gracefully strains and swells in this touching ballad. The accompanying video, which received high exposure on MTV, also challenges gender roles with men dressed up as female ballet dancers in a lampoon of the ballet Swan Lake. Like her first album, Medusa offers electropop with smatterings of other pop and rock styles, and the quality of the mix and production stand out. Musical allegiances to artists and groups such as the Clash, Neil Young, and Al Green are evident. Lennox adapts the Clash's song "Train in Vain" and Young's "Don't Let It Bring You Down" in renditions that work best if one does not know the original. Her delivery of the classic "A Whiter Shade of Pale" is an emotional tour de force. Much of the artistic merit of Medusa is attributable to the well-crafted and poignant charts of Lennox's arranger, Anne Dudley.

In 1996 Lennox released a limited-edition live album, Live in Central Park, and, much to everyone's surprise, teamed up with Stewart two years later to reform the Eurythmics. The reunion proved successful enough to warrant the release of a new album, Peace (1999). In 2000 Lennox's video compilation, Totally Diva, was released on DVD with two additional tracks, "Precious" and "Remember." Included on this compilation is "Why," the track that won the MTV Video Award for Best Female Video in 1992. Although Lennox's output is not extensive, she stands as a major female artist in the MTV era.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Diva (Arista, 1992); Medusa (Arista, 1995); Train in Vain (RCA, 1995); Bare (J-Records, 2003).

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

L. Ellis and B. Sutherland, Annie Lennox: The Biography (New York, 2002); S. Hawkins, Settling the Pop Score (Aldershot, England, 2002).

stan hawkins

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"Lennox, Annie." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Lennox, Annie." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/lennox-annie

"Lennox, Annie." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/lennox-annie