Annie Lennox (born 25 December 1954) is a Scottish musician and recording artist. Born in Aberdeen, Scotland, Lennox showed aptitude in music when she was a child and later studied classical music at the Royal Academy of Music in London. She began her recording career as a member of the British pop band The Tourists, and subsequently formed the synth pop duo Eurythmics with former bandmate David A. Stewart. The duo gained international prominence over the course of the 1980s with singles such as "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" and "Here Comes the Rain Again".
In the 1990s, Lennox embarked on a solo career beginning with her debut Diva (1992), which produced the hit singles "Why" and "Walking on Broken Glass". In 2004, she won both the Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Original Song for "Into the West", written for the original soundtrack to the feature film The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Following the release of her fourth studio album Songs of Mass Destruction (2007), Lennox released her first compilation album The Annie Lennox Collection in 2009.
In addition to her career as a musician, Lennox is also a political and social activist, leading such events as an anti-war rally in London on 3 January 2009 in response to the conflict in Gaza. She also objected to the unauthorised use of the 1999 Eurythmics song "I Saved the World Today" in an election broadcast for Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. Annie Lennox is on record in the Scotsman newspaper as supporting the SNP's call for Scottish independence.
Known as a pop culture icon for her distinctive contralto vocals and visual performances, Lennox has been named "The Greatest White Soul Singer Alive" by VH1 and one of The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine. She has earned the distinction of 'most successful female British artist in UK music history' due to her global commercial success since the early 1980s. Including her work within Eurythmics, Lennox is one of the world's best-selling music artists, having sold over 80 million records worldwide.
Lennox was born on Christmas Day, 1954, in Aberdeen. Her father worked at the shipyard, and her mother was a cook until she became a housewife. Lennox was an only child and the family lived in a small two-roomed apartment in a block of flats with communal laundry facilities. Despite her family's financial status, Lennox had piano lessons at school from the age of seven years at the cost of ?4.00 per term. She was interested in singing and, with plenty of time by herself, passed some of the time by singing along to the popular music of the time, including music by The Beatles. She was an unhappy teenager, partly because of a struggle over boundaries for her independence with her overprotective father. She attended Aberdeen High School for Girls, now Harlaw Academy. In 1964, her early talent was demonstrated when she came second in a talent contest at a Butlins holiday camp. She sang the song "M?iri's Wedding".
Both of Lennox's parents died of cancer. Her first marriage from 1984 to 1985 was to a German Hare Krishna devotee Radha Raman. From 1988 to 2000, she was married to Israeli film and record producer Uri Fruchtmann. They have two daughters, Lola (born 1990) and Tali (born 1993). A son, Daniel, was stillborn in December 1988.
Royal Academy of Music
In the 1970s, Lennox won a place at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where she studied the flute and classical music for three years. She lived on a student grant and worked at part-time jobs for extra money. Lennox was unhappy during her time at the Royal Academy partly because she was lonely and shy, and she missed many history of music lessons.
Lennox's flute teacher's final report stated: "Ann has not always been sure of where to direct her efforts, though lately she has been more committed. She is very, very able, however." Two years later, Lennox reported to the Academy: "I have had to work as a waitress, barmaid, and shop assistant to keep me when not in musical work." She also played and sang with a few bands, such as Windsong, during the period of her course. In 2006, the academy made her an honorary Fellow. Lennox also was made a Fellow of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama that year.
The Tourists and Eurythmics
Lennox in the mid 1980s
Between 1977 and 1980, Lennox was the lead singer of The Tourists, a moderately successful British pop band and her first collaboration with Dave Stewart. During the time they were in The Tourists, Stewart and Lennox were involved in a relationship, though this had ended by the time they formed Eurythmics.
Lennox and Stewart's second collaboration, the 1980s synthpop duo Eurythmics, resulted in her most notable fame, as the duo's alto, soul-tinged lead singer. Early in Eurythmics' career, Lennox was known for her androgyny, wearing suits and once impersonating Elvis Presley. Eurythmics released a long line of singles in the 1980s, including "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)", "Here Comes the Rain Again","Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves", "Who's That Girl?", "Would I Lie to You?", "There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)", "Missionary Man", "You Have Placed a Chill in My Heart", "Thorn in My Side", "The Miracle of Love" and "Don't Ask Me Why", among others. Though Eurythmics never officially disbanded, Lennox made a fairly clear break from Stewart in 1990. Thereafter, she began a long and equally-successful solo career.
Lennox and Stewart reconvened Eurythmics in the late 1990s with the album Peace, their first album of new material in ten years. A subsequent concert tour was completed, with profits going to Greenpeace. Lennox and Stewart later collaborated on two new pieces for their 2005 Eurythmics compilation album, Ultimate Collection, of which "I've Got a Life" was released as a single in October 2005. The promotional video for the song features Lennox and Stewart performing in the present day, with images of past Eurythmics videos playing on television screens behind them. Lennox also appears in a man's suit with a cane, reminiscent of her "Sweet Dreams" video image from 1983. The single peaked at number fourteen in the UK singles chart and was a number-one U.S. Dance hit.
Lennox has received eight BRIT Awards, the most of any female artist. Four of the awards were given during her time with Eurythmics, and another was given to the duo for Outstanding Contribution to Music in 1999. The closest any other female artist has come to this record is Dido, with four awards.
From the beginning of her career, Lennox has experimented with her image - both as an artist and as a woman. She matured as a public figure in the late 20th century, just as MTV and the medium of video were becoming the obvious vehicles for selling contemporary popular music. She has managed her image astutely, both as a means of interpreting and marketing her music; this was most obviously (and expertly) emphasised in the music video for "Little Bird" in 1992, in which many Lennox lookalikes were featured...all dressed as her many different personae from past videos - both solo and Eurythmics eras.
Early solo work
Though it was produced by Dave Stewart, the 1988 single with Al Green, "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" (a cover version of Jackie DeShannon's 1969 hit), was recorded for the soundtrack of the movie Scrooged. Credited to Lennox and Green, it therefore can be considered her first release outside a band identity. This one-off single peaked at #2 on the US Adult Contemporary chart, #9 US Hot 100 and was a top 40 hit in the UK. Lennox also performed the song that same year for a cameo appearance in the Derek Jarman film Edward II. She then made a memorable appearance with David Bowie and the surviving members of Queen at 1992's Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert at London's Wembley Stadium, performing "Under Pressure".
Lennox began working with former Trevor Horn proteg? Stephen Lipson, beginning with her 1992 solo d?but album, Diva. It was a commercial and critical success, charting #1 in the UK, #6 in Germany, and #23 in the US. Lennox's profile was boosted by Diva's singles, which included "Why" and "Walking on Broken Glass". "Little Bird" also formed a double A-side with "Love Song for a Vampire", a soundtrack cut for Francis Ford Coppola's 1992 movie Bram Stoker's Dracula. The B-side of her single "Precious" was a self-penned song called "Step by Step", which was later covered by Whitney Houston for the soundtrack of the film The Preacher's Wife. Houston's cover was a hit in its own right.
Although Lennox's profile decreased for a period due to her desire to bring up her two children outside of the media's glare, she continued to record albums. Her second release, Medusa, was released in 1995 and was an album of cover songs, including songs originally performed by Bob Marley and The Clash. The album was her second solo UK #1 and the single "No More I Love You's" received the 1996 Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
In 1997, Lennox re-recorded the Eurythmics track "Angel" for the Diana, Princess of Wales, tribute album, and also provided the song "Mama" for The Avengers soundtrack album. In 1998 ? following the death of a mutual friend (former Tourists member Peet Coombes) ? she re-established contact with Dave Stewart, and by 1999 Eurythmics had reformed for the album Peace.
Bare (2003) and other work
In 2003, Lennox released her third solo album, Bare. The album peaked at #3 in the UK and #4 in the US - her highest charting US album to date. She also embarked on a short tour, mainly in the US (and her first as a solo artist) to promote the album.
In 2004, Lennox won the Academy Award for Best Song for "Into the West" from the film The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King at the 76th Academy Awards, which she co-wrote with screenwriter Fran Walsh and composer Howard Shore. The song also won a Grammy award and a Golden Globe award. She had previously recorded "Use Well the Days" for the movie, which incorporates a number of quotations from Tolkien in its lyrics. This song was not used in the film, but it appears on a bonus DVD included with the "special edition" of the movie's soundtrack CD.
In mid-2004, Lennox embarked on an extensive North American tour with Sting. In July 2005, Lennox performed at Live 8 in Hyde Park, London, along with Madonna, Sting, and other popular musicians.
In October 2006, Lennox spoke at the British House of Commons about the need for children in the UK to help their counterparts in Africa.
Songs of Mass Destruction (2007)
Ending her long association with Stephen Lipson, Lennox's fourth solo album, Songs of Mass Destruction, was recorded in Los Angeles, California, with veteran producer Glen Ballard (known for the production of Alanis Morissette's album, Jagged Little Pill). The album was mixed in Miami, Florida, by Grammy Award-winner Tom Lord-Alge. It was released on 1 October 2007, and is the last studio album of Lennox's contract with BMG. It peaked at #7 in the UK and #9 in the US. The album's first single was "Dark Road", released on 24 September 2007.
Lennox stated that she believed the album consisted of "twelve strong, powerful, really emotive songs that people can connect to." If she achieves that, she says, "I can feel proud of , no matter if it sells ten copies or 50 million."
Lennox described it as "a dark album, but the world is a dark place. It's fraught, it's turbulent. Most people's lives are underscored with dramas of all kinds: there's ups, there's downs - the flickering candle." She added, "Half the people are drinking or drugging themselves to numb it. A lot of people are in pain."
One song on the album, "Sing", is a collaboration between Lennox and 23 prominent female artists: Anastacia, Isobel Campbell, Dido, C?line Dion, Melissa Etheridge, Fergie, Beth Gibbons, Faith Hill, Angelique Kidjo, Beverley Knight, Gladys Knight, k.d. lang, Madonna, Sarah McLachlan, Beth Orton, Pink, Kelis, Bonnie Raitt, Shakira, Shingai Shoniwa, Joss Stone, Sugababes, KT Tunstall, and Martha Wainwright. Included among the group are TAC activist members own vocal group known as "The Generics", whose CD of music inspired Lennox to make "Sing".
To promote Songs of Mass Destruction, Lennox embarked on a primarily North American tour called "Annie Lennox Sings", which she announced on 13 September 2007. Lasting throughout October and November, 2007, the tour included 18 stops: San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, Boulder, Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, Washington, D.C., Nashville, Atlanta, Miami, New York City (two dates), Philadelphia, and Boston. The venues generally were at medium-size theatres, except in New York, where one of the dates was a United Nations fundraiser at midtown restaurant Cipriani. This was the third solo tour of Lennox's career, though she has yet to tour her home country as a solo artist.
Retailer Barnes & Noble has an exclusive version of the album which contains two bonus tracks: an acoustic version of "Dark Road" and a new song, "Don't Take Me Down." Barnes & Noble's version also contains a second disc with the music video of "Dark Road" and audio commentary by Lennox about each song on the album. Artist Carina Round accompanied Lennox on the tour as an opener, promoting her third album, Slow Motion Addict.
The Annie Lennox Collection (2009)
Finishing out her contract with Sony BMG, Lennox released the compilation album The Annie Lennox Collection. Initially intended for release in September 2008, the release date was pushed back several months to allow Lennox to recuperate from a back injury. The compilation was eventually released in the US on 17 February 2009, and in the UK and Europe on 9 March 2009. Included on the tracklisting are songs from her four solo albums, one from the Bram Stoker's Dracula soundtrack, and two new songs. One of these is a cover of Ash's single, "Shining Light", for which a music video has been produced and features Lennox playing all the parts of the band. The single became Lennox's first UK top 40 solo hit since 1995, peaking at #39. The other is a cover of a previously unreleased song by Tom Chaplin, singer of the British Band Keane. Lennox renamed the song from its original title "Closer Now" to "Pattern Of My Life"; this track is scheduled to be released as the second single, in the UK, on 24 May 2009. A DVD was released along with the CD in one of the album's editions and a UK edition also features a second CD of rarer songs including a version of R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts" with Alicia Keys and Lennox's Oscar winning "Into the West" from the third Lord of the Rings film.
The album entered the UK album chart at #2 and remained in the top 10 for seven weeks. It is Lennox's fifth top 10 solo album and fourth Top 3 album. The collection debuted and subsequently peaked at #34 on the US Top 200 Billboard Album chart.
Departure from Sony BMG and future
Lennox's recording contract with Sony BMG concluded with the release of "Songs Of Mass Destruction" and her subsequent retrospective album "The Collection", and much was made in the press in late 2007/early 2008 about the apparent animosity between Lennox and the record company. Lennox stated that while on a trip to South Africa in December 2007 to appear at the 46664 campaign in Johannesburg, the regional company office of the label failed to return phone calls and e-mails she made to them for three weeks, and had completely failed to promote the Sing project as planned. Upon her return to the UK, Lennox met with the head of Sony BMG UK, Ged Docherty, who was "mortified" by the problems she had encountered with the South African branch. However the debacle (partly fuelled when Lennox's dissatisfaction with the South African office was made public on her blog) led to press reports falsely stating that she was being dropped by Sony BMG. The record company themselves quickly refuted the rumour stating that Lennox's contract had merely been fulfilled and that they hoped she would consider remaining with them. The British Daily Mirror newspaper subsequently printed a retraction of its story about her being dropped by the label.
Like many strong females in the public eye, Lennox has garnered a prominent following by members of the LGBT community. According to The Advocate, "er distinctive voice and provocative stage persona have made Lennox a longtime gay icon." With Eurythmics' music videos earning regular rotation on MTV in the early 1980s, Lennox took part in the shaping of popular culture alongside other gay icons such as Boy George, Madonna, Morrissey, and Michael Stipe.
In 1990, her version of Cole Porter's "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" appeared on the Porter tribute compilation Red Hot + Blue, a benefit for AIDS awareness.
Her song 'Sing' was sunsequently born out of Lennox's involvement with Nelson Mandela's 46664 campaign and Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), both of which are human rights groups which seek education and health care for those affected by the HIV AIDS virus. Lennox has established a Sing website to promote her activities in support of AIDS awareness issues."
Lennox opened the 2009 Edinburgh Festival of Politics with a stinging attack on Pope Benedict XVI?s approach to HIV/AIDS prevention in Africa. She said that the Pope?s denunciation of condoms on his recent tour of Africa had caused ?tremendous harm? and criticised the Roman Catholic Church for causing widespread confusion on the continent.
See also Annie Lennox Music videos
Both during her work with Eurythmics and in her solo career, Lennox has released an unusually large number of music videos. Diva was accompanied by videos for every song except one, which differed from the usual practice of only producing a video for the single releases. Actors Hugh Laurie and John Malkovich appeared in the music video for "Walking on Broken Glass", while the video for "Little Bird" paid homage to characters who had appeared in some of Lennox's previous videos. Played by women (and some men in drag), the clip includes her characters from "Why", "Walking on Broken Glass", "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)", "Beethoven (I Love to Listen to)", "I Need a Man", "Thorn in My Side", "There Must Be an Angel", and even the Freddie Mercury tribute. Following on from "There Must Be an Angel", many of her solo videos have a very classically theatrical feel with dramatic and comedic flourishes, sometimes in period settings.