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Tori Amos' musical journey across America

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Tori Amos

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(CNN) -- A piano player since she was 2 1/2 years old, Tori Amos emerged as one of the most emotionally intense female singer-songwriters of the '90s.

The North Carolina native went on a musical odyssey for her most recent album, "Scarlet's Walk," an exploration of America's soul post 9/11.

TMR caught up with Amos recently:

TMR: Has becoming a mother influenced your music?

AMOS: I think motherhood is a place that you live in. I think it's something that's changed every cell in my body. I'm much more comfortable being in a place of nurturing than I was [when I was being] warrior woman out there! Sometimes it's a very lonely place to be. And it can be very competitive.

Yes, I'm a lioness, and I'm a hunter for ideas, but at the same time, I love being a nurturer and maybe being a mom made me realize how important that is in my life.

TMR: How did you come up with the themes in "Scarlet's Walk"?

AMOS: I was on tour at the end of September 2001 and being out there with these people that were opening their hearts up, and [people's] masks went down. It was almost as if skin was peeled off, and you were seeing people for the first time and maybe they were seeing each other for the first time. I think relationships were being formed very rapidly.

The story started to shape itself [around] this woman who's taking a walk, trying to find out what she believes in and who this creature we call America really is.

TMR: And is Scarlet an alter ego?

AMOS: I guess she is an alter ego, but she's also any woman. She bleeds, she's a threat, and through her eyes she's seeing how she feels about herself as a woman, her responsibility maybe to her true mother, which is her country.

All the songs are based on real people and real events put in a story form.

TMR: What influenced you musically for this album?

AMOS: I was kind of studying all the great '70s records for this album. It's patterned more after classic song structure -- Fleetwood Mac's "Rumors," Neil Young's "Harvest." I think that I was trying to just immerse myself in the way things were recorded. It was a real craftsmanship. ... It's very hand done. Handmade. And so we approached it like that.

TMR: What are your thoughts on the current crop of female singer-songwriters? Vanessa Carlton often gets called "the new Tori!"

AMOS: Avril Lavigne, Vanessa Carlton, Michelle Branch and Norah Jones. ... It's just thrilling to know that the torch is being passed, and that's what this is about. A generation of songwriters can go out in the jungle and make a path that wasn't there before.

You make a little bit more of a path with your machete, and they can walk through it and then decide, "No, this is my own now, and now I need to carve my own path."

TMR: What do you have planned for the future?

AMOS: I have done the sonic novel. I am now getting seduced by the musical theater concept, maybe writing something. I don't know. Tim Rice said something to me once that has got me thinking.

Back to The Music Room main page.


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