Fiona Apple Biography

Fiona Apple Murphy Maggart, 13 September 1977, New York City, New York, USA. Growing up in a dysfunctional New York family, Fiona Apple soon discovered the impetus to articulate frustrations that would eventually result in widespread comparisons to Alanis Morissette for her 1996 debut, Tidal. As a child she was introduced to the Beatles by her stepfather, while her mother educated her in jazz standards. By the age of 11 she was writing her own songs, as a means of coping with self-imposed isolation caused by her shyness and lack of confidence about her appearance, and a rape ordeal at the age of 12. She found solace in the poetry of Maya Angelou, which she maintains to be her biggest influence. She took her first step on the road to international success when Clean Slate Records owner Andy Slater overheard her demo tape (recorded on a cheap tape recorder in her bedroom) at a Christmas party in 1993. He quickly signed her to the label, but allowed her a full two years of writing and recording before her debut album was released in July 1996. Tidal made an immediate impact, entering the Billboard Top 100 while Apple built up encouraging reviews by opening for Chris Isaak on tour. She was subsequently asked to appear on a November 1996 edition of Saturday Night Live - a booking that carried a de facto nod of approval from the music industry’s left-field cognoscenti. Two of the album’s attendant singles, the haunting ‘Shadowboxer’ and the breakthrough hit ‘Criminal’, also earned rave reviews.

In 1997, Apple won the Best New Artist accolade at the MTV Awards. Her relationship with magician David Blaine raised her media profile, although the couple split up when Apple began recording her second album. The title of this album runs to an astonishing 90 words, but is commonly abbreviated as When The Pawn... . When all the fuss regarding its title had died down, the album proved to be another challenging collection of singer-songwriter material, albeit less accessible than her debut. The videos for the singles ‘Fast As You Can’, ‘Paper Bag’ and ‘Limp’ were directed by the singer’s then boyfriend, film director Paul Thomas Anderson.

Apple worked with producer Jon Brion on her third album, but plans to release Extraordinary Machine in summer 2003 were shelved when both Apple and her record label expressed concerns about the finished product. Bootleg copies from the album appeared on the Internet the following year and some tracks found their way onto US radio. Apple teamed up with producers Mike Elizondo and Brian Kehew to rework the album for its official release in October 2005. Against all the odds, the album was greeted by almost uniformly strong reviews and became the highest-charting US release of Apple’s career.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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