Tori Amos on Love Affair With the Piano

"When my dad would come in I would kind of make it into Holy, Holy, Holy or a church song because we weren't supposed to do too much pop music," she said.

Like her father, who was a reverend, the teachers at Peabody were less than pleased with Amos' bohemian stylings.

"Certain composers like Lennon and McCartney, they were the next generation of great music," said Amos. "I was suggesting that they teach their work in composition class."

Amos believes this is part of why, when she auditioned for her sixth year at Peabody, her scholarship was not renewed. While her teachers may have given up on her, the Reverend Amos' faith never faltered; he pushed his daughter to continue with her music.

"So the first job that I got -- my father got it for me --- he had his clerical collar on, was a gay bar in D.C., it was Mr. Henry's of Georgetown," Amos recalled. "My father had knocked at other doors and said, 'Excuse me, my daughter is really talented,' and he had his bible in his hand, and was trying to I think, appear legitimate, but most people just thought we were nuts. And so it was the gay community that opened their door to the reverend and his daughter."

Roberta Flack had played at the same club years before, so Amos said she would often play "Killing Me Softly" in her honor. Her mother's records also came in handy for the musical theater sing-alongs that took place at the piano bar.

Amos' Idols: Bette Midler, Bette Davis

If given the choice, Tori says her ideal sing-along buddy would be Bette Midler, who starred in "The Rose" in 1979 and sang the legendary song of the same name.

"How great to have a sing-along with her?" Amos asked. "She always was to me, just a performer, you just wanted to go wherever she was going. And, that's the thing about great entertainers."

In her teens, Amos became obsessed with another famous Bette -- Bette Davis. Amos tried out acting in high school, and years later edged out an unknown Sarah Jessica Parker in a Kellogg's Just Right cereal commercial.

But it was her music career that took off, and seven years later her solo debut "Little Earthquakes" was released to critical acclaim and success. By the time she released "Under the Pink" in 1994 she had become a force in the music world.

"There's this jungle called 'Women in Music,' and the women that come before you they have their machetes and they clear a path," says Amos. "Joni Mitchell cleared a lot of brush away with her machete in the '60s to make room for so many who have come after her."

The limited second disc to "Under the Pink" called "More Pink" included a cover of Mitchell's "A Case of You," a song Amos says she wishes she had written herself.

"Joni Mitchell influenced bands of that time. It wasn't as if she had to be as loud as the band she inspired. They understood. It was about how powerful her content was."

As the metaphorical machete changes hands over the years, at her core, Tori Amos will remain the girl with her "huge, black, gorgeous creature."

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