Fiona Apple

September 13, 1977
  • Songs
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Apple was born and raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City. The daughter of an actor, Brandon Maggart, and singer, Diane McAfee, Apple took up the piano when she was only eight years old, and she regularly wrote short stories while growing up. She also sang a lot, stating "I'd come home from school and hang up my keys on a key chain that was right beside my mirror. I would look in the mirror and realize I was singing. I sang all the time." Her soulful bluesy sound is influenced by her love for jazz legends' Billie Holiday and Carole King.
  • The title of Apple's debut album, Tidal, comes from the thought that Apple felt life, and in particular her music career, was a tidal wave with crests and low points. However, she also wanted to go against the notion of having to have a title to her album. As noted from an interview by Apple in 2010, she thought using 'tidal' in place of 'title' was a way to rebel against the powers of the music industry that required a title be given for the album. No matter the name of the album, it went on to be certified three times Platinum. Hit songs from the debut album include "Sleep To Dream," "Criminal," and "Shadowboxer." For the song "Sleep to Dream," Apple won Best New Artist at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards. Then in 1998 she won her first Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, as well as the MTV Video Music Award for Best Cinematography, for the song "Criminal."
  • Apple was well known for her rebellious and angst-driven sound. However, her attitude carried over into her profession in other ways. During her acceptance speech at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards, Apple said, "This world is bulls--t, and you shouldn't model your life on what we think is cool, and what we're wearing and what we're saying." Critics and the media were harsh of Apple's candor, stating that she was unappreciative of her award and success.
  • Apple revealed that when she was 12 years old, she had been raped, which had been the motivation and meaning for the song "Sullen" from her debut album. As a young adult, she grew increasingly depressed from the incident, which fed into her need to control her body and physical presence.
  • Her award-winning music video for the song "Criminal" featured Apple semi-nude and wearing undergarments. This put her super skinny body in the public eye; the New Yorker stated that Apple "looked like an underfed Calvin Klein model" in the video. Apple stated that even though she "definitely had an eating disorder, what was really frustrating for me was that everyone thought I was anorexic, and I wasn't. I was just really depressed and self-loathing. For me it wasn't about getting thin, it was about getting rid of the bait attached to my body."
  • Apple performed with Johnny Cash on two of his albums. She sang a duet of "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon & Garfunkel with Cash on the last album he released before his death, American IV: The Man Comes Around. Apple and Cash also covered Cat Stevens' "Father And Son" that was recorded on Cash's compilation album Unearthed.
  • Brian Kehew, who co-produced her Extraordinary Machine album, says that Fiona has a very intimate connection with the songs she writes. In The Untold Story Of Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine, he said: "There were times when we would record two vocals for a song and say, 'Let's do it again, let's do another vocal,' and then try to do a third one. She'd say, 'I don't know if I can sing this anymore, I'm too sad,' because she doesn't sing a song without fully feeling what it means."
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