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Apple, Fiona

Fiona Apple

Singer, songwriter, pianist

Confident of her own creative abilities and sure of her originality as a female solo pop artist, singer-pianist Fiona Apple began her career at a young age. Her bluesy-pop sound of naked emotion was unique in a developing field of mid-1990s female artists. Continually compared to Tori Amos and Alanis Morrisette, Apple's wise-for-her-years maturity helped her maintain her composure as an artist. She smoothly launched into the vanguard of contemporary pop at age 19 with the release of her first album, Tidal, and her sultry, soulful voice pushed the release to outstanding commercial success. She won a Grammy for the single "Criminal" off the album. Following this success, Apple released When the Pawn … in 1999. She took a self-imposed hiatus from music for the next few years, eventually emerging with the well-received (and muchdelayed) Extraordinary Machine in late 2005.

Apple grew up in New York City, on Manhattan's Upper West Side, as the daughter of artistic parents. Her father, Brandon Maggart, was an actor and her mother, Diane McAfee, was a multi-talented singer, dancer, nutritionist, fitness trainer, and cook. Apple began playing piano at eight years old. As for singing, she explained in her recording label (Epic Records) biography that it seemed as if she had always sung. "I'd come home from school and hang up my keys on a key chain that was right beside my mirror. I would look in the mirror and realize I was singing. I sang all the time." The sounds of jazz standards influenced Apple's style, and some listeners recognized reflections of legends such as Nina Simone, Carole King, and Billie Holiday.

Early Emotional Turmoil

The concepts for her songs were forged amidst domestic conflict in Apple's early home life. She began her expressive exercises by exiting from household fights and writing letters about her feelings. In addition, Apple has admitted that she was a victim of sexual abuse as a pre-teen, but found some relief by talking about it. In an interview with Jane Stevenson of the Toronto Sun she said, "I remember hesitating and thinking this is probably going to ruin me…. I just didn't want to keep it a secret." Apple fell into turmoil without any escape except her creative imagination. Like many artists, she survived frustration and pain by writing and composing music. Piano scores and emotional letters were the outlets which later became her lifeline.

Apple moved from New York to Los Angeles when she was 16. She wanted to spend time with her father, finish her high school education, and make a demo. She planned to record lots of copies and distribute them widely. However, her entrance into the pop music scene was sudden. She traveled to New York to visit friends over the Christmas holidays, and gave a three-song demo tape to a friend who was baby-sitting for a music industry executive. The executive heard the demo and played it for producer and manager Andrew Slater. Slater contacted Apple soon after, and they ended up working together for more than four years.

Tidal, her debut album, was released in July of 1996 on Clean Slate/Epic. Apple ignored reviews because she refused to gauge herself by anything she was hearing or reading. Even though the album's title described how life's experiences ebb and flow like the ocean tides, Tidal hit like a tsunami on the pop scene. "Shadowboxer" received heavy videoplay on MTV and VH1, and landed Tidal on the top 40 albums chart. "Sleep to Dream," and "Criminal" formed the other primary components of the wave that hit the United States. The album went gold within six months and triple platinum within three years.

In the Spotlight

The instant success surprised the young singer. Despite playing the piano from her early years and writing songs about many of her personal experiences, Apple had yet to perform. She met that challenge by doing her first gig in Paris, appearing on Saturday Night Live guest spots, touring with Chris Isaak, performing as a headlining act on the 1997 Lilith Fair tour, and singing to sold-out audiences at concert hall performances. Apple spoke to Alan Light of Spin magazine about her confidence on stage and her performance style. "I feel totally in control when I'm singing the songs. As soon as I'm not, I don't know how to act. But I would rather not be contrived, even if it makes me look better."

Apple won the 1997 MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist In A Video, for "Sleep to Dream," and went on to win other awards, including the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, and the 1998 MTV Video Music Award for Best Cinematography for her "Criminal" video.

Apple sought to further clarify her thoughts on her sophomore album, which was released in late 1999. Responding to a November 1997 article in Spin magazine, she wrote a poem that she began reciting onstage during the Tidal tour. Following her own advice to the youth of the day, she chose the 90-word poem as the title of her 1999 release, which was the longest album title ever. When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He'll Win the Whole Thing 'Fore He Enters the Ring There's No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights And if You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land And if You fall It Won't Matter, 'Cuz You'll Know That You're Right was a collection of songs describing her anger at what she perceived as the selfish, greedy, self-serving, and voracious part of the world she had experienced. The sound of the second album was more upbeat than her debut, and the album hit gold status within two months. Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone described Apple's music as a spiritual sister to Korn and Limp Bizkit. Sheffield further predicted that the artist had a promising future: "[When the Pawn …] makes you hope that she'll find a way to use her talent as a connection to the world…. She's an artist who deserves a shot at growing up."

For the Record …

Born Fiona McAfee Maggart on September 13, 1977, in New York, NY; daughter of Brandon Maggart (an actor) and Diane McAfee (a singer and dancer).

Started playing piano at eight years of age; released debut album, Tidal, in 1996; released When The Pawn …, 1999; and Extraordinary Machine, 2005, all on Clean Slate/Epic.

Awards: MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist In A Video, for "Sleep to Dream," 1997; National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, 1998; MTV Video Music Award for Best Cinematography, for "Criminal" video, 1998.

Addresses: Record company—Epic Records, 2100 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90404, phone: (310) 449-2848, fax: (310) 449-2746. Website—Fiona Apple Official Website: http://www.fiona-apple.com.

When the Pawn … represented a new maturity for Apple's music, but she continued to struggle with her newfound success. In February of 2000, in the middle of a concert at the Roseland Ballroom in New York, she broke down and left the stage. She later issued an eight-page apology (she had apparently been unhappy with the sound system). In interviews she confessed details of her private life, including being raped by a stranger in her mother's apartment building at age 12. In 2002 she began recording her third album with producer Jon Brion, who had also produced her earlier albums. By 2003, however, it was unclear whether the album would be released. When rumors suggested that Epic had refused to issue the album, an anonymous source released the album on the Internet. Apple's fans immediately launched a "Free Fiona" effort, sending Styrofoam apples to Sony (Epic's parent company) in an attempt to force the album's official release. Apple, while touched by fans' efforts, was displeased with the premature release of the album. "It was the weirdest feeling," she told Elysa Gardner in USA Today, "like somebody had taken my diary and printed it."

A Long-Awaited Return

When Extraordinary Machine was finally officially released in 2005, Apple admitted that the delay had been primarily her fault. Dissatisfied with the majority of the original tracks recorded with producer Brion, and believing that Epic's oversight was too stringent, she walked away from the project. Returning in 2005, Apple re-recorded most of Extraordinary Machine's songs with producer Mike Elizondo, resulting in smaller arrangements and a more relaxed sound. Critically, the album received warm praise. "It's the kind of album that makes an artist's previous work sound better," noted Sasha Frere-Jones in the New Yorker, "a record that makes converts out of doubters." Extraordinary Machine also landed on a number of critics' "best of" lists for 2005. Ironically, while many reviewers found the official release superior to the Internet bootleg, Apple's fans continued to complain that the album—as originally conceived—had not been released.

In the wake of her newfound success, Apple exuded greater confidence. On the Blender website she declared, "I'm in a really good place right now. I feel a lot more prepared emotionally to deal with public life than I have before." At the same time, she also expressed ambivalence over her future as a performer. "I can't promise to anyone or myself that I'm going to be putting out albums for the rest of my life," Apple told Chi Tung in Paste. "I don't know if I'll always be inspired to write songs."

Selected discography

Tidal, Clean Slate/Epic, 1996.
When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like a King …, Clean Slate/Epic, 1999.
Extraordinary Machine, Epic/Clean Slate, 2005.

Sources

Books

MusicHound Rock, The Essential Album Guide, Visible Ink Press, 1999.

Periodicals

New Yorker, October 10, 2005.

Paste, December-January, 2005–6.

Rolling Stone, November 25, 1999, pp. 97-98.

Spin, December 1999, p. 82; January 2000, pp. 59-64.

USA Today, September 28, 2005.

Online

"Fiona Apple Bio," Epic Center, http://www.epicrecords.com (November 17, 2005).

"Fiona Apple," Rolling Stone.com, http://www.rollingstone.tunes.com (December 21, 2005).

"My Happy Ending," Blender, http://www.blender.com (February 19, 2006).

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"Apple, Fiona." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Apple, Fiona

FIONA APPLE

Born: Fiona Apple Maggart; New York, New York, 13 September 1977

Genre: Rock, Pop

Best-selling album since 1990: Tidal (1996)

Hit songs since 1990: "Shadowboxer," "Criminal"


The self-proclaimed "Sullen Girl," Fiona Apple was viewed as a contradiction when she burst onto the music scene in 1996 at the age of nineteen. The blue-eyed singer/songwriter with the bee-stung lips, throaty voice, and quirky piano-playing style wrote headstrong songs about the wars of the sexes; but she also stripped down to her underwear in the risqué video for her breakthrough single, "Criminal." It was a pattern the volatile singer followed over the next five years, mixing righteous indignation, cruel self-doubt, and public breakdowns with bitter send-offs of lovers and recording a second album whose title made history before it was even released.

Discovered on the cusp of a popular revolution in rock music that put female-fronted acts at the vanguard of pop music in the wake of the male-dominated heavy grunge rock scene of the early 1990s, nineteen-year-old Fiona Apple quickly distinguished herself. The daughter of the singer/dancer Diane McAfee and actor Brandon Maggart (Dressed to Kill, The World According to Garp ), Apple began playing piano at age eight and writing her own compositions by the time she was twelve.

Traumatized by the separation of her parents when she was four and a rape at age twelve in the Upper West Side apartment she shared with her mother and sisterchronicled in the seething "Sullen Girl"Apple left New York City for Los Angeles at age sixteen.

The singer gave a rough tape of three of her songs to a friend who babysat for a music industry publicist, who, in turn, passed it on to producer/manager Andrew Slater. The tape helped Apple land a recording contract with Sony Music, which released her debut, Tidal, in 1996. Produced by Slater, the album heralds the arrival of a strong, uncompromising new female singer/ songwriter who is not afraid to spill her emotions, no matter how painful, uplifting, or confused. Like fellow cathartic singer/songwriters Tori Amos and Alanis Morissette, Apple was unafraid to sit at a piano and unfurl intensely personal poetry; she often seemed on the verge of breaking down in mid-song. Apple's voice veers from a breathy, growling low end reminiscent of jazz singer Nina Simone to a quavering falsetto. Coupled with a reliance on arrangements owing more to jazz torch singers than to rock or pop music, Apple's richly textured songs distanced her from contemporaries.

Tidal 's opening track, "Sleep to Dream," is a model of the musical economy employed throughout the album. Compounded of an ominous, booming drum sound; ebb-and-flow piano figures; and Apple's mocking, yet vulnerable vocals, the song is a statement of purpose and defiance, summed up by the line, "So don't forget what I told you / Don't come around / I've got my own hell to raise." The backing musicians on the albumdrummer Matt Chamberlin, pianist Patrick Warren, multi-instrumentalist Jon Brion, and pedal steel guitarist Greg Leiszemerged as some of the most versatile, in-demand session players of the late 1990s. The video for "Shadowboxer" became a staple on both MTV and VH1, while the clip for the song "Criminal" generated instant controversy. Reminiscent of a widely panned series of 1995 Calvin Klein ads that were criticized for sexualizing seemingly underage children, the clip featured the lithe singer crawling in her underwear amid hollow-eyed, young-looking models in a grimy bedroom.


Rants, Raves, and a History-Making Album Title

In 1997 Apple won the Best New Artist award at MTV's Video Music Awards, confounding many in the audience with an anti-entertainment-industry rant that came to be known as the "go with yourself" speech. Apple won a Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance in 1998 for "Criminal" and recorded a dreamy cover of the Beatles's "Across the Universe" for the soundtrack to the 1998 film Pleasantville.

Apple's second album, When the Pawn . . . (1999), drew attention not just for the length of the complete title, but also for its expansion of her signature jazzrock sound. Tracks such as "On the Bound" and "Get Gone" add lush strings and twisted carnival keyboard sounds to her repertoire. On the album's single, "Limp," an aggressive rock arrangement melds with the sounds of warped metal and junkyard percussion to create yet another bitter kiss-off tirade to an unkind lover. "So call me crazy, hold me down/ Make me cry, get off now, baby / It won't be long 'til you'll be / Lying limp in your own hands," she sings.

In March 2000 Apple had an onstage meltdown at New York's Roseland Ballroom in front of a sold-out audience, leaving the stage after forty-five minutes. Complaining about not being able to hear herself, Apple began crying and stormed off the stage, but not before cursing at furiously scribbling music critics. The appearance marked the beginning of a self-imposed exile from the spotlight for the singer, who was slated to release her third album in 2003.

Fiona Apple opened her diaries for the world to hear, and the results were not always tidy, for the singer or her audience. Her talent and singular voice rose above the willful exploitation of her image to create the indelible image of a gifted singer who was at once sexy and slightly menacing.

Spot Light: When the Pawn . . .

Not known for doing things the easy way, it was hardly shocking that in 1999 Fiona Apple chose to release her second album with a ninety-word title that is believed to be among the longest in pop music history. The run-on sentence, foreshortened by space-sensitive publications to When the Pawn . . . , reads, in full, When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He'll Win the Whole Thing 'Fore He Enters the Ring There's No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won't Matter, 'Cuz You'll Know That You're Right.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Tidal (Clean Slate/WORK, 1996); When the Pawn . . . (Clean Slate/Epic, 1999).

WEBSITE:

www.fiona-apple.com.

gil kaufman

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Apple, Fiona

Fiona Apple

Singer, songwriter, piano

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

Confident of her own creative abilities and sure of her originality as a female solo pop artist, singer-pianist Fiona Apple began her career young and powerfully. Her bluesy-pop sound of naked emotion was unique in a developing field of mid-nineties female artists. Continually compared to Tori Amos and Alanis Morrisette, Apples wise-for-her-years maturity maintained her composure as an artist. She explained to an Associated Press journalist that I realized over the years that you develop as a human being, you develop your personality, and people get to know you and you make your own name. I think that experience has prepared me for this, because otherwise I might be sitting here going, lm not Alanis Morrisettes little sister. Apple smoothly launched into the vanguard of contemporary pop at age 19 with the release of her first album, Tidal. The sultry, soulful voice showcased on Tidal pushed the release to outstanding commercial success. Continuing her career, Apple moved through aggravations that accompany life, success of her music, complications of youth, and strove to live with honesty. She continued her career by accepting the aggravations that accompany life and striving to understand the success and complications of youth.

Apple grew up in New York, on Manhattans Upper West Side, as the daughter of an artistic set of parents. Her father was an actor and her mother a multi-talented womansinger, dancer, nutritionist, fitness trainer, and cook. She began playing piano at eight years old. As for singing, she explained in her recording label (Epic Records) biography that it seems as if she has always sung. She revealed, Id come home from school and hang up my keys on a key chain that was right beside my mirror. I would look in the mirror and realize I was singing. I sang all the time. Growing up to the sounds of jazz standards influenced Apples style, as some connoisseurs recognized reflections of legends such as Nina Simone, Carole King, and Billie Holiday.

Concepts for songs were forged amidst tremendous conflict during Apples early years at home. She began her expressive exercises by leaving household fights and writing letters about her feelings. She described her reactions in the Fiona Online biography, I resorted to not participating in any fighting. I used to leave the room and write a letter that would make my point. In addition to being born into tumultuous family dynamics, Apple has admitted to sexual abuse as a pre-teen and found relief through pushing her traumatic defilement by talking about it. In an interview with Jane Stevenson of the Toronto Sun she said, I remember hesitating and thinking this is probably going to ruin me I just didnt want to keep it a secret. Apple fell into turmoil

For the Record

Born c. 1978 in New York, NY; daughter of an actor (father) and a multi-talented mother.

Started playing piano at eight years of age; released debut album, Tidal, Clean/Slate/Epic, 1996; at age 18; released When The Pawn, Clean/Slate/Epic, 1999.

Awards: Triple platinum status for Tidal, 1996; MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist In A Video for Sleep to Dream, 1997; Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, 1998; MTV VMA for Best Cinematography in Criminal video, 1998.

Addresses: Record company Epic Records, 2100 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90404, phone: (310) 449-2746, fax: (310) 449-2848. WebsitesEpic Records: http://www.epicrecords.com; Fiona Apple Online: http://members.aol.com/FionaAO/wtpspecial/.

without an escape except her mind. Like many artists, she survived the amazing frustration and pain of her life situation by creating. Piano scores and emotional letters were the outlets which latter became her lifeline.

Apple moved from New York to Los Angeles when she was 16. She wanted to spend time with her father, finish her high school education, and make a demo. She planned to record lots of copies and distribute them widely. However, similar to many of the experiences which Apple had been thrust into over her short life, her entrance into the pop music scene was sudden, almost as if she had no choice in the matter. She traveled to New York to visit friends over the Christmas holidays. A three-song demo tape was given to a friend who was baby-sitting for a music industry executive. The friend passed the demo along to the exec, who then played it for a holiday party guest, producer and manager Andrew Slater. Slater contacted Apple soon thereafter and they worked together for more than four years.

Tidal, the debut album, was released in July of 1996 on Clean Slate/Work/Epic. Apple ignored reviews because she didnt want to gauge herself by anything she was hearing or reading. A statement from Fiona Apple Online explained her philosophy about art, The way I feel about musicany song, any styleis that there is no right and wrong, only true and false. If the music and lyrics are conceived out of honesty and if the production of the song goes along with its original message, then what has been expressed is art regardless of what anyones opinion is of it. So things are a lot simpler if you just tell the truth. Even though the album name was drawn from how lifes experiences ebb and flow like the ocean tides, Tida/hit like a tsunami, blasting onto the pop scene. The popularity of Shadowboxer received heavy videoplay on MTV and VH1 and landed Tidal on the Top 40 albums chart. Sleep to Dream, and Criminal, were the other primary components of the wave which hit the United States. The album went gold within six months and triple platinum within three years.

The instant success surprised the young singer. Despite playing the piano from her early years and writing songs about many of her personal experiences, Apple had yet to perform her expressions. Boldly taking the next step as a musician, she vowed in the Fiona Apple Online biography, Ill be nervous, but what else can I do? I wont go backwards. She met that challenge by doing her first gig in Paris, appearing on Saturday Night Live guest spots, touring with Chris Isaak, exciting crowds as a headlining act on the 1997 Lilith Fair tour, and entertaining sold-out audiences with concert hall performances. Apple spoke to Alan Light of Spin magazine about her confidence on stage and her performance style. She expressed that she strived to be authentic while on stage: I feel totally in control when Im singing the songs. As soon as Im not, I dont know how to act. But I would rather not be contrived, even if it makes me look better.

Apples success soon placed her in yet more disturbing situations. After winning the 1997 MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist In A Video for Sleep to Dream, she turned infamous by blasting the music industry while accepting the award. After quoting Maya Angelou about how humans can create opportunities, she took her opportunity and decried, to everyone watching, this world is bullshit, and that everybody knew that to be true. In an interview posted on Fiona Apple Online, she explained her anger displayed while accepting the award. She felt there was too much manipulation of Nineties youth through fabricated music star images. She explained that people should think for themselves and not model their lives on what pop stars tell them is cool. Go with yourself, she instructed. She went on to win other awards, including the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, and the 1998 MTV VMA for Best Cinematography in her Criminal video. However, making the video was another experience of violation for Apple. Saying that she regretted doing the video, she revealed her frustration, what f***in bullshit did I really win that night. I won because it was controversial. I won for being in my underwear on MTV. That made me so ashamed of myself. She said the videographers were telling how beautiful she looked during filming, but afterward, she just felt stupid. Obviously, Apple was tired of the exploitation and humiliation that had repeatedly occurred in her life.

Angst-ridden Apple sought to further clarify her thoughts on her sophomore album which was released in late 1999. Responding in frustration to a November 1997 article about herself in Spin magazine, she wrote a poem which she began reciting onstage during the Tidal tour. Following her own advice to the youth of the day, Apple went with herself and chose the 90-word prose as the title of her 1999 release. The longest album title ever, When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like a King What he Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and Hell Win the Whole Thing Fore He Enters the Ring Theres No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights And if You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land And if You fall It Wont Matter, Cuz Youll Know That Youre Right, was a collection of songs uncovering the angst about the selfish, greedy, self-serving, and voracious part of the world she has experienced. The sound of the second album was more upbeat and rocked a little harder than her debut. Rob Sheffield, from Rolling Stone, described Apples music as a spiritual sister to Korn and Limp Bizkit. Apple found success in expressing that part of human experience which has been used, hurt, abused, pushed to anger, manipulated, and confused as evidenced by her second album hitting gold status in two months. Sheffield further wrote that she had a promising future: [When the Pawn] makes you hope that shell find a way to use her talent as a connection to the world shes an artist who deserves a shot at growing up.

Selected discography

Tidal, Clean Slate/Work/Columbia, 1996.

When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like a King What he Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and Hell Win the Whole Thing Fore He Enters the Ring Theres No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights And if You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land And if You fall It Wont Matter, Cuz Youll Know That Youre Right, Clean Slate/Epic, 1999.

Sources

Books

MusicHound Rock, The Essential Album Guide. Visible Ink Press, 1999.

Periodicals

Spin, December 1999, p. 82; January 2000, pp. 59-64. Rolling Stone, November 25, 1999, pp. 97-98.

Online

Fiona Apple Bio, Epic Center, http://www.epicrecords.com, (November, 1999).

Fiona Apple, Rolling Stone.com, http://rollingstone.tunes.com, (December 21, 1999).

Happily Ever After, Fiona Apple Online, http://members.aol.com/FionaAO/wtpspecial/, November, 1999; (December 16, 1999).

Fiona Apple, Jam! Showbiz, http://www.canoe.ca/JamMusicArtistsA/apple_fiona.html, January, 1997; October 28, 1997; (December 18, 1999).

Some Girls, Miami News Times.com, http://www.miaminewstimes.com, (December, 1997).

Nathan Sweet

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"Apple, Fiona." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 24 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Apple, Fiona." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved July 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/apple-fiona