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Beth Orton Biography


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{, Norfolk, England and performer , Electronica (1996–2005)
EMI-UK (2005–present)
Astralwerks (2003-present) , 1970), is a Brit Award–winning England singer-songwriter. Known for her sound which mixes elements of folk music and electronica, she is perhaps best known for her collaborations with the Chemical Brothers, and also for her albums Central Reservation and the UK top 10 hit Daybreaker. Her 2006 release, Comfort of Strangers, has seen her completely move away from the electronica style, to a much more stripped down contemporary folk-based album. Perhaps her best known single releases are the hits "She Cries Your Name" and "Stolen Car".
Early career

Perhaps best described as a folk music/electronica artist, the six-foot-tall Orton was born in East Dereham, Norfolk, but raised on a pig farm in Norwich for her formative years, before moving to East London, England aged fourteen. Her father, an architectural draftsman, left her mother when Beth was eleven, and she lived with her mother, an artist and political activist, and her two brothers, her father dying shortly afterwards.Q Magazine, issue 56, page 202"Emotional Rescue", Daily Telegraph, 28 January 2006, p32 Her mother died from cancer in 1989, when Beth was aged 19,"Emotional Rescue", Daily Telegraph, 28 January 2006, p35, which led to her travelling to Thailand for a short period, residing with Buddist nuns. Orton found success as a musician relatively late, having first worked at menial jobs such as waitressing at Pizza Hut and even owning her own catering company.An Interview With Beth Orton, Heavenly Recordings, BETH002, 1999 She was also more interested in acting during her early career, having enrolled at the Anna Scher Theatre School, and she spent some time touring Une Saison en Enfer with a fringe theatre company throughout the UK, Russia and Ukraine, playing Rimbaud's lover.Beth Orton http://www.bethorton.mu/
Singing Career

Early Work

Her first contribution in music came when she met William Orbit at a London nightclub, when he tried to borrow a cigarette from her. They began a relationship shortly after, and before long he invited her to do some spoken word for his current Strange Cargo project, but she drunkenly decided to sing also. Possibly the best-known work from that time is " Water from a Vine Leaf", which she also co-wrote, which was released as a single in limited numbers. It was also at about this time that Orbit and Orton covered John Martyn's Don't Wanna Know 'Bout Evil, which was not only the first song that they recorded together, but also the first release as a duet called Spill (band) in Japan, which was also rereleased in 1997 in the UK.


Shortly after, Orton and Orbit began experimenting to pull an L.P. together. Don't Wanna Know 'Bout Evil became the first track on that album, called Superpinkymandy, named after a childhood ragdoll which she bought at a jumble sale at the age of six.Morning Becomes Eclectic, first aired 30 May 1997 The album was released in Japan alone, in extremely limited numbers (popularly quoted as between 1000 and 5000 copies pressed), which makes it a rare and sought after commodity. The sound is very much Orbit's, but several songs were co-written, and some tracks were later recycled (albeit in very different versions): She Cries Your Name, for what she now considers her debut album (Trailer Park), while Yesterday's Gone evolved to become Montok Point for the fourth Strange Cargo release Hinterland in 1995, which featured Beth on several tracks as vocalist, and also included an alternative version of She Cries Your Name. It was roughly at this time that she met Ed and Tom of the Chemical Brothers in a pub, and began the first in a series of collaborations, supplying vocals to the track " Alive Alone" on 1995's Exit Planet Dust.

Trailer Park

Her first solo release, a cover of The Ronettes' I wish I Never Saw the Sunshine was released, again in extremely limited numbers, in mid 1996, and was followed by She Cries Your Name, shortly before the release of what she herself considers to be her debut L.P. Trailer Park, released on Heavenly Records on 19th October 1996. This release earned her nominations for two Brit awards (best British newcomer, best British female), and the Mercury Music Prize in 1997, was well received by critics, and sold modestly well, shifting 300,000 copies and peaking at #68 in the UK. The album was produced by Andrew Weatherall, whom she selected based on his production of one of her favourite records at the time, Primal Scream's Screamadelica. The album was far removed from her previous work, with a lot more pop music/Folk music tunes present, although there were more than a few hints of her electronic roots. She began to tour this record, first supporting acts such as The Beautiful South, and appearing with Ron Sexsmith, before breaking out on her own. In June 1997, she had her first UK Top 40 hit single, with a reissue of She Cries Your Name.

Central Reservation

She toured that summer with Lilith Fair, as well as releasing the Best Bit EP, improving on her previous best chart position, reaching #38 in the UK. Central Reservation, her second album (proper), helped Orton build on the success of her debut album. Although retaining the electronic edge of the former, this record showed a notably more acoustic side with several tracks consisting purely of Beth's vocal accompanied by a solitary Steel-string guitar, with subject matters becoming more introspective, including Pass in Time, a song about the death of her mother. Despite this style, the album still provided more polished moments such as lead single " Stolen Car" and the electro melancholy of " Stars All Seem To Weep" or the jazz-and-strings-tinged " Sweetest Decline", songs which cut a much deeper mark than the more glossy feel of her debut. The album also featured notable contributions from folk music musician Terry Callier, Dr Robert and Ben Harper. Several tracks were also produced by Ben Watt of Everything But The Girl. The album gave Orton a second Mercury Music Prize nomination, and won her Best Female at the 2000 Brit Awards.


In July 2002 she released the album Daybreaker, which again blended the early electronica style, with up tempo Pop music songs and acoustic ballads. It featured guest appearances from musicians such as The Chemical Brothers, Emmylou Harris, whom she met at Lilith Fair, Ryan Adams and Four Tet. It was a great commercial success, reaching the top 8 of the UK album chart, but received mixed reviews from the press, ranging from " Her best work yet" from Mojo (magazine) magazineNew album reviews, Mojo Magazine, p.102,August 2002), the NME (8/10) New album reviews, New Musical Express, p.33, 27 July 2002, Rolling Stone MagazineNew album reviews, Rolling Stone Magazine, p.72, 25 July, 2002 and the Guardian, but receiving a more lukewarm reception from Q magazineNew album reviews, Q Magazine, p.132, August 2002 (Despite this she was nominated for the Q award for best album). This was followed in 2003 by an U.S. only release on American label Astralwerks, The Other Side of Daybreak, an album consisting mainly of b-sides and remixes of songs from Daybreaker, created by artists such as Roots Manuva. She also contributed a song to the War Child (charity) charity, for their Hope compilation album that year. A double-album "Best Of" album entitled Pass In Time was released in 2003, containing one previously unreleased song "The Same Day", and the singles, as well as the better known b-sides, and rarities such as Where Do You Go from SuperPinkyMandy. The highlight of her career arguably came on 31 March 2003, when she played to a packed Royal Albert Hall in London, the last date of her worldwide tour to promote Daybreaker. She also played a tribute concert to Elliot Smith in November.

Comfort of Strangers

Her fourth studio album Comfort of Strangers was released in February 2006 - the North American release through Astralwerks, the UK release coming through EMI-UK. The release sees her move away from the electronica element that she is usually associated with, to a more stripped down traditional alt-folk album. This followed an extended absence since her previous release, partially a result of several failed production attempts, and the parting of ways between her and Heavenly RecordsBeth Orton Bares All http://harpmagazine.com/articles/detail.cfm?article_id=3865. The final album was produced by the respected musician Jim O'Rourke (musician).


Her consistent band since 1999's Central Reservation has been guitarist Ted Barnes, keyboardist Sean Read, ex-Sandals drummer Will Blanchard and former Red Snapper (band) member Ali Friend on bass. However, this has changed, as Ali and Ted have moved on to form their own band Clayhill, and in addition Ted has pursued his own projects, with Beth guesting on his solo debut album, Short Scenes. Only Sean remains in her current live band, although Clayhill have played as the support act on both her UK and US tours to promote Comfort of Strangers. Her current band consists of Leroy Bach, drummer Matt Johnson and upcoming guitarist Emmett Kelly.
Personal life

Orton has been romantically linked with a number of high profile musicians, including William Orbit and Ryan Adams.Smash it up!, http://www.blender.com/guide/articles.aspx?id=595, December 2003. Retrieved 11th September, 2006 A well-known sufferer from Crohn's Disease.Famous Ostomates & IBD Patients http://www.ostomy.evansville.net/celebrity.htm. retrieved 11th September 2006, she recently revealed had not suffered serious symptoms in the last three years, following a strict analysis of what she ate."Emotional Rescue", Daily Telegraph, 28 January 2006, pp.32-37 Orton is expecting her first child in December 2006. She cancelled her September 2006 UK tour due to her pregnancy."Beth's pregnancy http://beth-orton.be/index.php?showtopic=1103 retrieved 11th September, 2006 She is a well known opponent of the " War on Terror", and played at the One Big No concert in March 2003 at the Shepherd's Bush Empire in London, organised by Emily Eavis. One Big NO, anti-war gig, 2003, http://www.virtualfestivals.com/festivals/festival.cfm?eventid=3023&dbtable=event§ion=eventhome retrieved 11th September 2006 In the Telegraph interview she revealed that in the past she had shunned several opportunities to raise her public profile, on ethical grounds. Such opportunities included becoming the face of Calvin Klein, representing the Gap (which, according to some sources, use sweatshops to manufacture their clothes), and promoting the sales of her records at Starbucks coffee outlets. While she is a supporter of Fairtrade, she has subsequently relented on this last stance. All of her recent releases are subscribed to be "carbon neutral", whereby a tree is planted in a poor area of Mexico for every certain amount of units produced to offset the emissions generated when pressing the CDs, and other marketing paraphernalia.Carbon Neutral http://www.carbonneutral.com/shop/details.asp?productid=823&productname=Dedicate%20a%20Tree:%20Beth%20Orton retrieved 11th September 2006 She has also been offered the opportunity to return to her first love, acting. Having played the lead female in the independent film Southlander, she was offered to audition for the role of John Cusack's girlfriend in the film " High Fidelity", but didn't accept the invitation (the part went to Iben Hjejle). Beth also wrote music for the Erin Brockovich soundtrack. She does state that she would act, if an appropriate part came up for her.


Image:SPM.jpg (Japan only - 1993) Image:Beth_Orton_-_Trailer_Park.jpg (1996) - UK#68 Image:Beth_Orton-Central_Reservation_(album_cover).jpg (1999) - U.S.#110, UK#17 Image:Daybreaker.jpg (2002) - U.S.#40, UK#8 Image:TOSOD.jpg (2003) Image:pitime.jpg (2003) Image:Cos.jpg (February 2006) - U.S.#93, CAN#89, UK#24


(as Spill) (1992) Image:IWINSTS.jpg (1997) Image:SheCries1.jpg(26 September 1996) #76 UK Image:TouchMe.jpg (1996) #60 UK Image:SomeoneDaughter.jpg (24 March 1997) #49 UK Image:SheCries.jpg (2 June 1997) #40 UK Image:BestBit.jpg (14 December 1997) #36 UK Image:StolenCar.jpg (22 February 1999) #34 UK Image:CentralRes.jpg (13 September 1999) #37 UK Image:Consky.jpg (15 July 2002) Image:Boanywhere.jpg (2002) #55 UK Image:Thinkingabout.jpg (2003) #57 UK Image:bethconceived.jpg (29 November 2005 - Digital download, 30 January 2006) #44 UK Image:Shoptrol.gif (26 June 2006) #87 UK

Guest spots / rarities

  • Alive Alone - vocalist on the song from the Chemical Brothers' Exit Planet Dust .
  • Beautiful Way - a duet found on Beck's Midnite_Vultures .
  • Brown Sugar - a duet with Ryan Adams, featured in a free CD from Uncut_Magazine .
  • Dice - a Finlay Quaye song sampling Beth's vocals from 'Roll The Dice', originally from her album SuperPinkyMandy .
  • Frankie - live recording of the Mississippi John Hurt folk ballad on the The Harry Smith Project: The Anthology Of American Folk Music Revisited compilation.
  • In Deep - vocalist on Red Snapper's album Reeled and Skinned .
  • Inside - guesting on New Buffalo (band)'s album The Last Beautiful Day .
  • Katie Cruel - a duet with Bert Jansch on his album Black Swan .
  • Kiss Of The Bee - from Strange Cargo: Hinterland , with William Orbit.
  • Love Can Do - found on Terry Callier's Lifetime .
  • Million Town - from Strange Cargo: Hinterland , with William Orbit.
  • No Expectations - recorded with Beck, unreleased.
  • Ooh Child - a cover of the Five_stairsteps' song contributed to the War_Child_%28charity%29 charity's Hope compilation album.
  • She Cries Your Name - an early version from Strange Cargo: Hinterland, with William Orbit.
  • Sisters Of Mercy - a cover of the Leonard Cohen song, for the Leonard_Cohen:_I%27m_Your_Man OST.
  • Snapper - vocalist on Red Snapper's album Reeled and Skinned.
  • Ted's Waltz (remaster) - an alternative version of her own song, appearing on her guitarist Ted Barnes' album, Short Scenes.
  • The State We're In - vocalist on the song from the Chemical Brothers' Come_With_Us.
  • Untouchable (Part 2) - a duet with Princess Superstar on her album Princess_Superstar_Is.
  • Watch The Stars - a duet with Bert Jansch on his album Black Swan.
  • When The Sun Comes Up - a duet with Bert Jansch on his album Black Swan.
  • Where Do I Begin - vocalist on the song from the Chemical Brothers' Dig_Your_Own_Hole.
  • Wild World - a cover of the Cat Stevens' song, for the How_to_deal#Soundtrack OST.
    Coming soon
  • Sunny Afternoon - a duet with Ray Davies on a tribute album to the Kinks' frontman

  • Southlander
  • ''Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man

    Courtesy of: http://www.wikipedia.org/

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