Famous Like Me > Singer > A > Fiona Apple
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Profile of Fiona Apple
on Famous Like Me
|Also Know As:
||Fiona Apple Maggart
|Date of Birth:
||13th September 1977
|Place of Birth:
||New York City
Fiona Apple (born Fiona Apple Maggart on September 13, 1977 in New York City) is an American singer-songwriter. Her albums, Tidal (1996) and When the Pawn (1999), have sold over five million copies worldwide.
Fiona Apple is a member of a family rich with roots in entertainment. She is the daughter of singer Diane McAfee and actor Brandon Maggart. Her sister, Amber, sings cabaret under the stage name Maude Maggart. Her half brother Garret Maggart starred in the TV series The Sentinel. In addition, her maternal grandparents were Millicent Green, a dancer with the George White Scandals, a flapper-era group similar to the Ziegfeld Follies, and Johnny McAfee, a multireedist and vocalist of the big band era; her grandparents met while touring with Johnny Hamp and his Orchestra.
At the age of 12, Apple was raped upon returning home from school to her mother's apartment. The rape is only mentioned in one of her released songs, "Sullen Girl." While the media latched onto the story of her dark past experience, making her what Apple refered to as "the poster child for rape," the singer says the only reason she even mentioned the rape to an interviewer was because she didn't want it to seem like something of which she should be ashamed. As a child, there was concern she had anti-social tendencies, as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder, and she underwent therapy.
Her big break in the music industry came when a friend, who babysat for a record executive, handed his employer a demo. Apple's husky voice and phrasings got the attention of Sony executives, who signed her to a record deal.
Going Tidal, 1995–1998
In 1996, Apple's debut album Tidal was released by a subsidiary of Sony. The album went on to sell 3 million copies (certified triple platinum) domestically.
"Criminal," the third single from Tidal, became the breakthrough hit for the songstress. The song's suggestive opening lyrics ("I've been a bad, bad girl..."), accompanied by a controversial music video directed by Mark Romanek in which a waifishly thin Apple appeared in various degrees of undress, garnered a great deal of attention. Unsurprisingly, the video received heavy rotation on VH-1 and MTV. Years later, Apple said, "I wasn't [comfortable]. And you can see that in the video. It's not sexy. It's disturbing."
Other singles from Tidal included "Sleep to Dream," "Shadowboxer," "Never is a Promise," and "The First Taste."
After a series of fiery public appearances, Apple's image began to suffer. Most notoriously, while accepting an MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist Video of 1997 ("Sleep To Dream"), she proclaimed "this world is bullshit" and quoted Maya Angelou: "Go with yourself." Though her comments were generally greeted with cheers and applause at the awards ceremony, the media backlash was huge; host Chris Rock made a derisive comment about her speech, which only added to the backlash. Some considered her remarks hypocritical, seeing a contradiction between her appearance in a risque music video in only her underwear, and her telling young women to ignore celebrity culture. She was unapologetic, however: "When I have something to say, I'll say it."
When the Pawn era, 1999–2001
In 1999, Apple's second album, 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 (commonly shortened to When the Pawn) was released.
The album was cultivated during Apple's relationship with film director Paul Thomas Anderson. It was well-received critically, especially by the New York Times and by Rolling Stone, but some press immediately dismissed the album. The initial review in Spin Magazine simply quoted the title, and then underneath read "Whoops. Now we don't have room for a review. One star."
The album used more expressive lyrics, experimented more with drum loops and heavily incorporated clavichord and organ. It did not commercially fare as well as her debut, though it was an RIAA-certified Platinum-selling release in the United States. Several singles were released ("Fast as You Can," "Paper Bag" and "Limp"), but the videos (directed by then-boyfriend Anderson) received very little airplay. The album's lyrics were also often difficult to decipher, due to Apple's usage of archaic and creative wording in place of layman's terms. For example: "My derring-do allows me to dance the rigadoon around you. But by the time I'm close to you, I lose my desideratum [...]"
Despite critical support, the lengthy title, obtuse lyrics, and controversy surrounding her public persona rendered her music — and Apple herself — inaccessible for many.
Fashioning an Extraordinary Machine, 2002–2005
A third album, Extraordinary Machine, which was produced by Jon Brion, was submitted to Sony executives in May 2003. Sony was reportedly unenthusiastic about the finished product, and the project was shelved for over two years.
In 2004, the tracks "Extraordinary Machine" and "Better Version of Me" were leaked on the Internet in MP3 format and played on U.S. and international radio; subsequently, MP3s of the entire album, believed produced by Brion (although he later claimed the leaked tracks were "tweaked" beyond his own work), went online. Although a website distributing the album was quickly taken offline via the DMCA copyright law, they soon reached P2P networks and were snapped up by fans eager to hear Apple's music after a five year wait. The bootleg was received favorably, but with caveats; words like "innovative", "experimental", and "brilliant" were used alongside words like "unsteady", "uneven" and "unfinished."
Spin later reported: "Fans erroneously thought that Apple's record label, Epic, had rejected the first version of Extraordinary Machine... in reality, according to Elizondo, Apple was unhappy with the results, and it was her decision to redo the record, not her label's."
On August 15, 2005, the long awaited third album was given a release date of October 4. The label announced that production had been completed by Mike Elizondo (though known for his work with hip-hop artists such as Dr. Dre, he had previously played bass for Apple on Pawn) and co-produced by electronica experimentalist Brian Kehew. No mention was made of Brion's participation, but it was quickly determined that of the 11 tracks previously leaked, 2 would appear unchanged, 9 were completely retooled, and there would be one brand new song. The album will be a DualDisc, the DVD side of which will contain new videos for "Not About Love" and "Parting Gift", five of Apple's perfomances filmed at Largo, and behind-the-scenes footage. Upon its release, the album became the highest-charting album of Apple's career, debuting at a strong #7.
According to Elizondo, "Everything was done from scratch." He went on to state that most of the production sounds "radically different." The New York Times suggested that Epic Records was unimpressed by fan interest in the bootleg, and that Apple herself never considered the album finished. By the time of the leak, she, Kehew and Elizondo had already started the re-recording process. Elizondo praised Apple's "amazing core" of fans, while acknowledging the awkwardness of working on an album that was already being dissected publicly, but defended Apple for sticking to her ultimate vision for the album.
Rumors abound regarding the initial rejection of the album. However, it is clear that Sony was initially unhappy with the work, and Apple and Brion sought to rework the album. Sony made caveats on the process, to which Apple balked. After a long period of waiting, Fiona began an attempt to rework the album with close friend Kehew (also a friend and former roommate of Jon Brion). Elizondo was brought back as co-producer to complete the tracks he had begun with Brion and Apple. The only statement Apple has released regarding the new album states "Now that my album is finally finished, I am very, very excited to have people hear what we did; I am so proud of it, and all of us who worked on it."
Despite suggestions that the album had caused a rift between Brion and Apple, they regularly perform together at Largo, a club in Los Angeles, including a joint appearance with Elizondo on bass just before the news broke of an official release. Elizondo has hinted that he might join Apple on a live tour to support the album. Until the album's release, Apple's official website will be updated with new clips every Friday.
Apple is also a vegan and supporter of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). In 1997, Apple recorded a message on PETA's hotline expressing her concern for the plight of turkeys on Thanksgiving. In reference to a Butterball Turkey hotline people could call to get tips on cooking their turkeys, she claimed, "There's no proper way to kill and cook these beautiful birds." She continued, "Millions of people are learning that a vegetarian diet is the healthy choice for themselves, the Earth and the animals."
- Released: July 23, 1996
- Chart Positions: #15 U.S.
- Last RIAA Certification: 3x Multi Platinum in April 1999
- Singles: "Criminal", "Sleep to Dream", "Shadowboxer",
"Never is a Promise", "The First Taste".
|When the Pawn...
- Released: November 9, 1999
- Chart Positions: #13 U.S.
- Last RIAA Certification: Platinum in February 2000
- Singles: "Fast as You Can", "Paper Bag", "Limp".
- Released: October 4, 2005
- Chart Positions: #7 U.S. - highest chart position for Fiona Apple album
- Last RIAA Certification: N/A
- Singles: "Parting Gift", "O' Sailor".
Awards & nominations
- 1997 Grammy Award win for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for "Criminal"
- 1997 Grammy Award nominations for Best New Artist, and Best Rock Song for "Criminal"
- 1997 MTV Video Music Award win for New Artist Video of the Year for "Sleep To Dream"
- 1998 MTV Video Music Award win for Best Cinematography for "Criminal" - shared win with Harris Svides
- 1998 MTV Video Music Award nomination for Female Video of the Year for "Criminal"
- 2000 Grammy Award nominations for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance ("Paper Bag"), and Best Alternative Music Album ("When the Pawn").
- 2002 Grammy Award nomination for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals for "Bridge Over Troubled Water" - shared nomination with Johnny Cash
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