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Amos, Tori

Tori Amos

Singer, songwriter, pianist

Tried Los Angeles Rock Scene

Gained European Cult Following

Another Platinum Record

New Album, New Label

Selected discography

Sources

After spending years in classical piano training, then experimenting with the Los Angeles rock scene, Tori Amos attracted a popular music audience with her pure talent and honest expression of emotion in the early 1990s. Though Amos’s debut album, Little Earthquakes, received only a smattering of college radio airplay, press coverage, and video exposure—MTV could never quite decide whether she belonged on Alternative Nation or VH1—it quietly insinuated itself into more than two million American homes and earned multi-platinum status. Her sophomore effort, Under the Pink, repeated this trajectory in the spring of 1994, vaulting into the top ten and going platinum.

Amos was born Myra Ellen Amos on August 22, 1963, in Newton, North Carolina, the youngest of the three children of the Reverend Edison Amos and his wife, Mary Ellen. Amos grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, where her father had transplanted his Methodist ministry from its original base in Washington, D.C. Her older brother and sister were taking piano lessons, but Amos didn’t seem to need them. From the time she could reach the keys, she could play. When she was two, she could reproduce pieces of music she’d only heard once, and by age three she was composing her own songs.

At five she became the youngest student ever admitted to Baltimore’s prestigious Peabody Conservatory, where for the next six years she did her best to be the dutiful child prodigy. Amos and the conservatory had a mutual parting of the ways when she was 11. “They know nothing about any other world than their own,” she told an interviewer years later. “How can you teach musicians to be all they can be when all they’re getting is guys that have been eaten by the worms? Hey, Bartok is amazing stuff; learning that has given me a foundation. But so did Jimmy Page. So did John Lennon. So did Joni Mitchell. So did Patti Smith. To really be a musician is to keep expanding.”

Tried Los Angeles Rock Scene

With her father’s encouragement, Amos began playing clubs in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C. It must have been an odd sight, the 13-year-old girl and the Methodist minister showing up at mostly gay bars. But the audiences were tolerant, and as long as she played enough of what they wanted to hear, they were receptive to occasionally being serenaded by her personal song experiments as well.

By the time Amos was 17 she’d amassed a stock of homemade demo tapes that her father would send to record companies, producers, and anybody else who might be able to help his daughter. Producer Narada Michael Walden responded favorably, and they actually cut some tracks together, but none were released. Eventually Atlantic Records responded to one of the tapes, and when A&R man Jason Flom flew to

For the Record…

Born Myra Ellen Amos on August 22, 1963, in Newton, NC daughter of Edison (a Methodist minister) and Mary Ellen Amos; married Mark Hawley (a sound engineer), 1998; children: Natashya. Education: Studied classical piano at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, 1968-74.

Played clubs in and around Baltimore and Washington, D.C.; signed by Atlantic Records; formed hard rock band Y Kant Tori Read and released self-titled album, 1988; embarked on solo career; moved to London, early 1990s; released debut solo album, Little Earthquakes, 1992; released Under the Pink, 1994; released Boys for Pele, 1996; released From the Choirgirl Hotel, 1998; toured with Alanis Morissette, released To Venus and Back, 1999; released cover album Strange Little Girls, 2001; signed with Epic, released concept album Scarlet’s Walk, 2002.

Awards: BRIT Awards, Best New International Artist, Best International Solo Artist, 1993; recipient of numerous reader poll awards from publications including Rolling Stone, Q, and Keyboard.

Addresses: Record company—Atlantic Records, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10019, website: http://www.atlantic-records.com. Website—Tori Amos Official Website: http://www.toriamos.com.

Baltimore to audition her in person, the label was convinced: Amos was signed to Atlantic.

Then, in a move Creem magazine would later characterize as “a creative running away from home of sorts,” Amos decided to reinvent herself as a Los Angeles “rock chick,” as she deemed her persona of that time. She formed a band called Y Kant Tori Read that included future Cult and Guns n’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum. When the group’s self-titled album sank without a trace in 1988, Amos was crushed and withdrew from the music business and even her own songwriting. While visiting a friend some months later, however, Amos sat down at the piano and watched in amazement as unconscious music poured out of her for the next five hours. What she reconnected with that night was a sense of musical self and an inner voice that she could not deny.

Atlantic executive John Carter teamed her with producer Davitt Sigerson (The Bangles, David & David) in 1990, and the six tracks they cut in Los Angeles became the basis for her debut solo album. The emotional power of this new material was undeniable, the intensity of its confessional tone occasionally even discomforting. But Atlantic, not seeing a natural slot for this material in the fragmented American radio market, suggested that Amos move to England.

Gained European Cult Following

Amos’s cross-Atlantic move was the turning point for her success. European audiences in the past had been willing to give eccentric American originals—from Joesphine Baker to Jimi Hendrix—a sympathetic ear. They were no less receptive to the offbeat charms of Amos. Her solo piano performances gained her a cult following that had spread so organically that when Little Earthquakes was released in January of 1992 it entered the British charts at number 15.

The album’s most celebrated song was “Me and a Gun,” Amos’s unvarnished account of the kidnapping and rape she had endured in Los Angeles a few years before after giving a stranger a ride home from one of her concerts. The writing of the song was not only a brave act, but an essential one. “Yes, it was painful to go through,” she told Paul Zollo of Musician. “But it’s about passing through to the other side. Sometimes writing songs is the only sense I can make out of anything… This particular issue was something I had buried for six years. While writing it, I was caught up in the trauma and the euphoria. I was finally able to cry about it. When you’re walking around tripping over your intestines you’ve got to do something, and writing songs is it for me.” Amos also dealt with the ordeal by helping other victims. She co-founded the nonprofit RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network), which, by the end of the 1990s, was the largest such organization in the United States.

Little Earthquakes was released in America in February of 1992 and slowly but steadily began to attract listeners. It was helped along by a breathtaking video for the single “Silent All These Years,” though the power of her words and music was such that it created its own visuals. Brook Hersey, writing in Glamour, pinpointed the appeal of Amos’s music: “People don’t just discover Tori Amos, they become obsessed… Listeners who’ve felt unimportant or powerless, who’ve gone through the emotional struggle for self-worth, seem to feel she is telling their long-overdue story.” Amos had created her own audience, with Little Earthquakes selling a million and a half copies worldwide.

Another Platinum Record

Under the Pink, Amos’s follow-up album, released early in 1994, was also well received and enjoyed quick commercial success as well, with the first single, “God,” selling over a million copies within months of hitting the shelves. Amos told Bill DeMain in Performing Songwriter, “When I wrote ‘God’ I was having a complete conversation with the concept of what God is… To me, it’s the root of all problems, that song right there. For me, [it is] one of the most important things I’ve ever done. You can call it my prayer if you want.” Greg Sandow of Entertainment Weekly wrote, “Measured simply by her raw ability, Tori Amos is a phenomenal talent. Few pop artists ever offer such variety or such richness of musical detail.” Marie Elsie St. Leger of Rolling Stone noted: ‘The album is focused, the lyrics quirky and personable, the melodies eccentric enough to entice and simple enough to be catchy. Those qualities—and her emotional fearlessness—make Tori Amos a musical find to treasure.”

Her third album, Boys for Pele (named after the Hawaiian volcano-dwelling goddess to whom men were sacrificed), came out in 1996. Though it debuted at number two on the Billboard pop chart and quickly reached platinum status, many critics called it a “difficult” album, not easily understood by a casual fan. Amos defended the album, telling a Billboard interviewer that though she is pleased to have a wider audience, she wasn’t going to compromise her song-writing or “dumb down” her lyrics. “It isn’t about trying to be ‘Tori light’…. I didn’t change what I do.” Boys chronicled Amos’s self-discovery as a woman in a man-dominated world and was written after the end of a seven-year relationship.

Amos took 1997 off, spending much of her time coping with a miscarriage by pouring her emotions into her songwriting. These songs formed the basis for her next album, From the Choirgirl Hotel. Time reporter Christopher Farley called it “the best and boldest of her career … [the listener is] swept up in the force and energy of her music.” Many songs, including the single “Spark,” deal with the pain and loss she dealt with when she miscarried the previous year. “You realize, I can’t create as a woman-mother right now, but I can create as a musician,’” she told Farley.

Amos married Mark Hawley, her sound engineer and father of the child she miscarried, in early 1998. “The sound was so amazing [on the last tour], I looked up and said, ‘Who’s doing the sound?’ And my heart was lost,” Amos told Time. The couple had their first child, a daughter named Natashya, in 2000. The family lives in southern England when not on tour, raising their daughter in the English countryside.

A double CD, To Venus and Back, was released to coincide with a tour with Alanis Morissette. The CD contained one disc of live music and one disc of new studio tracks. Amos followed that up with 2000’s Strange Little Girls, an album of songs originally written by males, from a male point of view, deconstructed and rewritten by Amos. Critics and fans especially liked her haunting take on Eminem’s “Bonnie and Clyde” and her reworking of Slayer’s “Raining Blood.”

New Album, New Label

In 2002, Amos released Scarlet’s Walk on her new label, Epic. The concept album, written in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, follows a fictional women, Scarlet, on a journey around America and the liner notes come complete with a follow-along map outlining the journey. “The songs just started coming quickly because I was out in the land at a time when the masks were down, when people were talking about things they might not talk about today,” Amos explained to Isaac Guzman of the New York Daily News. On her journey, Scarlet meets a host of characters, and the songs chronicle the differing lives each experiences in different American cities. All Music Guide reviewer Stephen Erlewine praised Scarlet’s Walk, calling it a return to form after several years of difficult, obscure albums that only the “rabidly devoted” could like. “[Scarlet’s Walk] is confident, alluring, and accomplished, luring listeners in instead of daring them to follow.”

Amos cherishes her audience as much as they do her. “Some of the most interesting, growing conversations I’ve had,” she told an interviewer, “and some of the most incredible wisdom I’ve gotten, has been backstage from the people who come to see me play. They all have a story to tell. And most of them are really working on consciousness; there is a commitment to the idea that the earth is going to the next stage of development. I just try to strip myself, peel myself like an onion. At different layers I discover stuff. I do it publicly, and if it helps to inspire somebody else, which inspires somebody else, which inspires somebody else … then we’re talking about a really exciting world here.”

Selected discography

(With Y Kant Tori Read) Y Kant Tori Read, Atlantic, 1988.

Little Earthquakes, Atlantic, 1992.

Under The Pink, Atlantic, 1994.

Boys for Pele, Atlantic, 1996.

From the Choirgirl Hotel, Atlantic, 1998.

To Venus and Back, Atlantic, 1999.

Strange Little Girls, Atlantic, 2001.

Scarlet’s Walk, Epic, 2002.

Sources

Periodicals

America’s Intelligence Wire, November 14, 2002.

BAM, March 11, 1994.

Billboard, March 28, 1992; February 20, 1993; December 4, 1993.

Business Wire, September 6, 2000.

Cosmopolitan, November 1999.

Creem, March 1994.

Details, November 1992.

Entertainment Weekly, February 4, 1994.

Europe Intelligence Wire, October 26, 2002.

Glamour, August 1992.

Keyboard, September 1992.

Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, October 10, 2001; October 23, 2002.

Metro Times (Detroit), October 28, 1992.

Musician, May 1992.

New Statesman, November 11, 2002.

Performing Songwriter, March 1994.

Rolling Stone, April 2, 1992; April 30, 1992; February 24, 1994; June 30, 1994.

Spin, March 1994.

Time, May 11, 1998.

Online

“Scarlet’s Walk,” All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (March 14, 2003).

“Tori Amos,” All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (March 14, 2003).

Additional information was obtained from Atlantic Records publicity material, 1992 and 1994, and from interviews with Amos in December of 1993 and January of 1994.

Ben Edmonds

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Amos, Tori

Tori Amos

Singer, songwriter, pianist

Tried Los Angeles Rock Scene

Gained European Cult Following

Another Gold Record

Selected discography

Sources

After spending years in classical piano training, then kexperimenting with the Los Angeles rock scene, Tori Amos attracted a popular music audience with her pure talent and honest expression of emotion. Though Amoss debut album, Little Earthquakes, received only a smattering of college radio airplay, press coverage, and video exposureMTV could never quite decide whether she belonged on Alternative Nation or VH1it quietly insinuated itself into 600,000 American homes and earned a gold record. Her sophomore effort, Under the Pink, repeated this trajectory in the spring of 1994, vaulting into the Top Ten and going gold.

Amos was born Myra Ellen Amos on August 22,1963, in Newton, North Carolina, the youngest of the three children of the Reverend Edison Amos and his wife, Mary Ellen. Amos grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, where her father had transplanted his Methodist ministry from its orginial base in Washington, D.C. Her older brother and sister were taking piano lessons, but Amos didnt seem to need them. From the time she could reach the keys, she could play. When she was two, she could reproduce pieces of music shed only heard once, and by age three she was composing her own songs.

At five she became the youngest student ever admitted to Baltimores prestigious Peabody Conservatory, where for the next six years she did her best to be the dutiful child prodigy. Amos and the conservatory had a mutual parting of the ways when she was 11. They know nothing about any other world than their own, she told an interviewer years later. How can you teach musicians to be all they can be when all theyre getting is guys that have been eaten by the worms? Hey, Bartok is amazing stuff; learning that has given me a foundation. But so did Jimmy Page. So did John Lennon. So did Joni Mitchell. So did Patti Smith. To really be a musician is to keep expanding.

Tried Los Angeles Rock Scene

With her fathers encouragement, Amos began playing clubs in the Georgetwon section of Washington, D.C. It must have been an odd sight, the 13-year-old girl and the Methodist minister showing up at mostly gay bars. But the audiences were tolerant, and as long as she played enough of what they wanted to hear, they were receptive to occasionally being serenaded by her personal song experiments as well.

By the time Amos was 17 shed amassed a stock of homemade demo tapes that her father would send to record companies, producers, and anybody else who might be able to help his daughter. Producer Narada

For the Record

Born Myra Ellen Amos, August 22,1963, in Newton, North Carolina; daughter of Edison (a Methodist minister) and Mary Ellen Amos. Education: Studied classical piano at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, 1968-74.

Played clubs in and around Baltimore and Washington, DC; signed by Atlantic Records; formed hard rock band Y Kant Tori Read and released self-titled album, 1988; embarked on solo career; moved to London, early 1990s; released debut solo album, Little Earthquakes, Atlantic, 1992.

Awards: Silent All These Years nominated for four 1992 MTV Music Video awards; won Best New International Artist and Best International Solo Artist at the 1993 BRIT awards; recipient of numerous reader poll awards from publications including Rolling Stone, Q, and Keyboard; gold records for Little Earthquakes and Under the Pink.

Addresses: Record company Atlantic Records, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10019.

Michael Walden responded favorably, and they actually cut some tracks together, but none were released. Eventually Atlantic Records responded to one of the tapes, and when A&Rman Jason Flom flew to Baltimore to audition her in person, the label was convinced: Amos was signed to Atlantic.

Then, in a move Creem magazine would later characterize as a creative running away from home of sorts, Amos decided to reinvent herself as a Los Angeles rock chick, as she deemed her persona of that time. She formed a band called Y Kant Tori Read that included future Cult and Guns n Roses drummer Matt Sorum. When the groups self-titled album sank without a trace in 1988, Amos was crushed and withdrew from the music business and even her own songwriting. While visiting a friend some months later, however, Amos sat down at the piano and watched in amazement as unconscious music poured out of her for the next five hours. What she reconnected with that night was a sense of musical self and an inner voice that she could not deny.

Atlantic executive John Carter teamed her with producer Davitt Sigerson (The Bangles, David & David) in 1990, and the six tracks they cut in Los Angeles became the basis for her debut solo album. The emotional power of this new material was undeniable, the intensity of its confessional tone occasionally even discomforting. But Atlantic, not seeing a natural slot for this material in the fragmented American radio market, suggested that Amos move to England.

Gained European Cult Following

Amoss cross-Atlantic move was the turning point for her success. European audiences in the past had been willing to give eccentric American originalsfrom Joes-phine Baker to Jimi Hendrixa sympathetic ear. They were no less receptive to the offbeat charms of Amos. Her solo piano performances gained her a cult following that had spread so organically that when Little Earthquakeswas released in January of 1992 it entered the British charts at Number 15.

The albums most celebrated song was Me and a Gun, Amoss unvarnished account of the kidnapping and rape she had endured in Los Angeles a few years before. The writing of the song was not only a brave act, but an essential one. Yes, it was painful to go through, she told Paul Zollo of Musician.But its about passing through to the other side. Sometimes writing songs is the only sense I can make out of anything.... This particular issue was something I had buried for six years. While writing it, I was caught up in the trauma and the euphoria. I was finally able to cry about it. When youre walking around tripping over your intestines youve got to do something, and writing songs is it for me.

Little Earthquakeswas released in America in February of 1992 and slowly but steadily began to attract listeners. It was helped along by a breathtaking video for the single Silent All These Years, though the power of her words and music was such that it created its own visuals. Brook Hersey, writing in Glamour, pinpointed the appeal of Amoss music: People dont just discover Tori Amos, they become obsessed.... Listeners whove felt unimportant or powerless, whove gone through the emotional struggle for self-worth, seem to feel she is telling their long-overdue story. Amos had created her own audience, with Little Earthquakes selling a million and a half copies worldwide.

Another Gold Record

Under the Pink, Amoss follow-up album, released early in 1994, was also well received and enjoyed quick commercial success as well, with the first single, God, selling over a million copies within months of hitting the shelves. Amos told Bill DeMain in Performing Songwriter, When I wrote [God] I was having a complete conversation with the concept of what God is.... To me, its the root of all problems, that song right there. For me, [it is] one of the most important things Ive ever done. You can call it my prayer if you want. Greg Sandow of Entertainment Weekly wrote, Measured simply by her raw ability, Tori Amos is a phenomenal talent. Few pop artists ever offer such variety of such richness of musical detail. Marie Elsie St. Leger of Rolling Stone noted: The album is focused, the lyrics quirky and personable, the melodies eccentric enough to entice and simple enough to be catchy. Those qualitiesand her emotional fearlessnessmake Tori Amos a musical find to treasure.

Amos cherishes her audience as much as they do her. Some of the most interesting, growing conversations Ive had, she told an interviewer, and some of the most incredible wisdom Ive gotten, has been backstage from the people who come to see me play. They all have a story to tell. And most of them are really working on consciousness; there is a commitment to the idea that the earth is going to the next stage of development. I just try to strip myself, peel myself like an onion. At different layers I discover stuff. I do it publicly, and if it helps to inspire somebody else, which inspires somebody else, which inspires somebody else ... then were talking about a really exciting world here.

Selected discography

On Atlantic Records

(With Y Kant Tori Read) Y Kant Tori Read, 1988.
Little Earthquakes, 1992.
Under The Pink, 1994.

Sources

BAM, March 11, 1994.

Billboard, March 28,1992; February 20,1993; December 4,1993.

Creem, March 1994.

Details, November 1992.

Entertainment Weekly, February 4, 1994.

Glamour, August 1992.

Keyboard, September 1992.

Metro Times (Detroit), October 28, 1992.

Musician, May 1992.

Performing Songwriter, March 1994.

Rolling Stone, April 2, 1992; April 30, 1992; February 24, 1994; June 30, 1994.

Spin, March 1994.

Additional information for this profile was obtained from Atlantic Records publicity material, 1992 and 1994, and from interviews with Amos, December 1993 and January 1994.

Ben Edmonds

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"Amos, Tori." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Amos, Tori

TORI AMOS

Born: Myra Ellen Amos; Newton, North Carolina, 22 August 1963

Genre: Rock, Pop

Best-selling album since 1990: Under the Pink (1994)

Hit songs since 1990: "Silent All These Years," "God," "Cornflake Girl"


Singer, songwriter, and pianist Tori Amos is one of the most unusual and acclaimed performers to have emerged from the 1990s. With her 1991 debut album, Little Earthquakes, Amos took listeners by storm with achingly honest songs drawn from her personal experience growing up in the South. Throughout the 1990s Amos toured exhaustively, built up a large international fan base, and released more than half a dozen albums with aggregate sales of several million copies. Quirky, idiosyncratic, fearless, and sensual, the flame-haired Amos appeals equally to men and women.

From the age of four, Amos was gifted at the piano; by the time she was a teenager, she knew that she wanted to pursue a career in music. The daughter of a homemaker and a Methodist minister, she was born in North Carolina but grew up in Maryland and attended the prestigious Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore from 1968 to 1974. While attending Peabody, Amos became more interested in rock music, especially Led Zeppelin. In her late teens she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her musical career, playing in bars. Atlantic Records signed her in 1987; oddly, Amos's first professional recording featured her pop-heavy-metal band Y Kant Tori Read. It was a flop, but Atlantic kept her. It was a wise decisionall but one album Amos has released since then for Atlantic have gone platinum, and she has received eight Grammy Award nominations.

Amos's career breakthrough came with her second album, Little Earthquakes (1991). Its inspired, intensely personal, piano-based compositions prompted comparisons to Joni Mitchell and Kate Bush. The album spawned two hits: "Crucify," a plea for self-acceptance, and "Silent All These Years," about a woman trying to find her voice, literally and figuratively. Both songs were successful singles on college and adult album alternative stations. "Me and a Gun," the penultimate track on Little Earthquakes, also commanded attention for its harrowing, a cappella tale of Amos's own experience with rape.

Amos's live shows at this time were a stunning sight: She wriggled, writhed, and pounded away on the piano as if it were equivalent to an electric guitar as a symbol of rock-and-roll prowess and sexuality. Little Earthquakes peaked at number fifty-four on the Billboard Top 200 and reached number one on the Heatseekers chart.

Amos's follow-up album, Under the Pink (1994), is a similarly vulnerable but more eclectic collection that examines everything from female jealousy ("The Waitress") to relationships ("Baker, Baker"). As a minister's daughter she deals compellingly with religious disillusionment in the stirring, chilling "Icicle" and in her duet with Trent Reznor in "Past the Mission." This has been her most successful release, and it produced a few hits, including "Cornflake Girl," a song about prostitution. In the soulful "God," punctuated with squalling guitars in between verses, Amos poses the following question in the first verse: "God sometimes you just don't come through/ Do you need a woman to look after you?"

Never one to worry about offending people, Amos made waves with her next album, Boys for Pele (1996), the cover of which depicts a pig sucking her breast. Her most ambitious and difficult record, it yielded the classic single "Caught a Lite Sneeze." Boys for Pele debuted at the number two spot and quickly went platinum.

During most of 1997, Amos dealt with personal changes, including a miscarriage and a marriage, while working on her fourth album, From the Choirgirl Hotel (1998), which also went platinum. Two years later Amos kicked off a tour with Alanis Morissette with the release of To Venus and Back, a two-CD set with one disc of new material and the other of live concert recordings. The new material is full of harder-edged songs that are epic in scope and owe much to her friendship with the industrial artist Trent Reznor.

Amos switched from Atlantic to Epic Records after the release of her collection of covers, Strange Little Girls (2001), which received mixed reviews. Her first release for Epic, Scarlet's Walk (2002), was recorded in the shadow of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001. The album charts the psychological and geographical terrain of her travels throughout every state in the United States. The result is a thoughtful, seemingly effortless collection of eighteen tracks that mark a welcome return to the strong story-songs of her earlier albums, most notably in the first single, "Sorta Fairytale." The work upholds Amos's stature as an uncompromising artist whose quirky feminist musings on religion and sexism have earned her a legion of loyal fans and a secure niche among the creative forces in contemporary American music.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Little Earthquakes (Atlantic, 1991); Under the Pink (Atlantic, 1994); Boys for Pele (Atlantic, 1996); From the Choirgirl Hotel (Atlantic, 1998); To Venus and Back (Atlantic 1999); Strange Little Girls (Atlantic, 2001); Scarlet's Walk (Epic, 2002).

carrie havranek

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"Amos, Tori." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/amos-tori