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Sing Us a Song, Piano Woman: Female Fans and the Music of Tori Amos

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In April of 2007, when Virginia Tech became the site of the worst school shooting in U.S. history, Adrienne Trier-Bieniek was a graduate student finishing a master’s degree in the school's department of sociology. In the months that followed, Trier-Bieniek sought ways to deal with her heartache and sense of loss. As she had many times before, she turned to Tori Amos's musi In April of 2007, when Virginia Tech became the site of the worst school shooting in U.S. history, Adrienne Trier-Bieniek was a graduate student finishing a master’s degree in the school's department of sociology. In the months that followed, Trier-Bieniek sought ways to deal with her heartache and sense of loss. As she had many times before, she turned to Tori Amos's music as a guide for healing, using the songs as channels for her grief. Amos’s style of introspective songwriting often focuses on women’s experiences. Among other themes, her songs frequently tackle encounters with grief and loss, as well as violence against women, miscarriage, the degradation of the earth and sexual liberation. Using this music to facilitate her own healing led Trier-Bieniek to consider how other women had used Tori Amos’s music as a means to heal after trauma. Knowing that many women had turned to Amos’s music after an assault, or to help them heal from things like eating disorders or the loss of a child, Trier-Bieniek began to research women’s encounters with music in general and Amos’s music in particular. This exploration led to a landslide of information regarding the ways women are represented in pop culture, particularly the gender stereotypes of female fans. The result of this study is “Sing Us a Song, Piano Woman: Female Fans and the Music of Tori Amos.” Released on June 16, 2013, this book explores the many-layered relationships female fans build with feminist musicians in general and with Tori Amos, in particular. Using original interview research with more than forty fans of Tori Amos, multiple observations at Amos’s concerts and an analysis of Amos’s lyrics, Adrienne Trier-Bieniek employs a combination of gender, emotions, music, and activism to unravel the typecasts plaguing female fans. Trier-Bieniek aggressively challenges the popular culture stereotypes that have painted all female fans as screaming, crying teenage girls who are unable to control themselves when a favorite (generally male) performer occupies the stage. In stunning contrast, admirers of Tori Amos tend to be more reflective. Sing Us a Song, Piano Woman examines the wide range of stories, exploring how Amos’s female fans are unique because Amos places the experiences of women at the center of her songwriting and musical composition. The result? A legion of female fans whose experiences with assault, eating disorders, miscarriage and other traumas have left them hunting for music that will help them rebuild -- and in Tori Amos's songs, they find it. At a time when superficial women dominate public media presentations, from the Kardashians to the “Real Housewives,” the relationship between Tori Amos and her fans illustrates the continuous search by women for female performers who challenge patriarchal standards in popular culture. Trier-Bieniek’s research shows that women want to see their identity reflected in the women who dominate pop culture. Academically, “Sing Us a Song, Piano Woman” will serve as a contribution to research aimed at gender, sociology, feminist methodology, pop culture, social psychology, emotions, culture, women’s studies and health/healing. ******************************* Adrienne Trier-Bieniek, PhD is the author of the forthcoming book “Sing Us a Song, Piano Woman: Female Fans and the Music of Tori Amos”, which is available for pre-order on Amazon. She studies emotions and music as well gender stereotypes in pop culture. Adrienne is a professor of sociology at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida. www.adriennetrier-bieniek.com


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In April of 2007, when Virginia Tech became the site of the worst school shooting in U.S. history, Adrienne Trier-Bieniek was a graduate student finishing a master’s degree in the school's department of sociology. In the months that followed, Trier-Bieniek sought ways to deal with her heartache and sense of loss. As she had many times before, she turned to Tori Amos's musi In April of 2007, when Virginia Tech became the site of the worst school shooting in U.S. history, Adrienne Trier-Bieniek was a graduate student finishing a master’s degree in the school's department of sociology. In the months that followed, Trier-Bieniek sought ways to deal with her heartache and sense of loss. As she had many times before, she turned to Tori Amos's music as a guide for healing, using the songs as channels for her grief. Amos’s style of introspective songwriting often focuses on women’s experiences. Among other themes, her songs frequently tackle encounters with grief and loss, as well as violence against women, miscarriage, the degradation of the earth and sexual liberation. Using this music to facilitate her own healing led Trier-Bieniek to consider how other women had used Tori Amos’s music as a means to heal after trauma. Knowing that many women had turned to Amos’s music after an assault, or to help them heal from things like eating disorders or the loss of a child, Trier-Bieniek began to research women’s encounters with music in general and Amos’s music in particular. This exploration led to a landslide of information regarding the ways women are represented in pop culture, particularly the gender stereotypes of female fans. The result of this study is “Sing Us a Song, Piano Woman: Female Fans and the Music of Tori Amos.” Released on June 16, 2013, this book explores the many-layered relationships female fans build with feminist musicians in general and with Tori Amos, in particular. Using original interview research with more than forty fans of Tori Amos, multiple observations at Amos’s concerts and an analysis of Amos’s lyrics, Adrienne Trier-Bieniek employs a combination of gender, emotions, music, and activism to unravel the typecasts plaguing female fans. Trier-Bieniek aggressively challenges the popular culture stereotypes that have painted all female fans as screaming, crying teenage girls who are unable to control themselves when a favorite (generally male) performer occupies the stage. In stunning contrast, admirers of Tori Amos tend to be more reflective. Sing Us a Song, Piano Woman examines the wide range of stories, exploring how Amos’s female fans are unique because Amos places the experiences of women at the center of her songwriting and musical composition. The result? A legion of female fans whose experiences with assault, eating disorders, miscarriage and other traumas have left them hunting for music that will help them rebuild -- and in Tori Amos's songs, they find it. At a time when superficial women dominate public media presentations, from the Kardashians to the “Real Housewives,” the relationship between Tori Amos and her fans illustrates the continuous search by women for female performers who challenge patriarchal standards in popular culture. Trier-Bieniek’s research shows that women want to see their identity reflected in the women who dominate pop culture. Academically, “Sing Us a Song, Piano Woman” will serve as a contribution to research aimed at gender, sociology, feminist methodology, pop culture, social psychology, emotions, culture, women’s studies and health/healing. ******************************* Adrienne Trier-Bieniek, PhD is the author of the forthcoming book “Sing Us a Song, Piano Woman: Female Fans and the Music of Tori Amos”, which is available for pre-order on Amazon. She studies emotions and music as well gender stereotypes in pop culture. Adrienne is a professor of sociology at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida. www.adriennetrier-bieniek.com

43 review for Sing Us a Song, Piano Woman: Female Fans and the Music of Tori Amos

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ella

    Originally posted elsewhere on May 16, 2016 Since 1991 Tori Amos' music has helped countless fans heal, grow older with a shred of dignity and a ton of humor, and the book spells this all out clearly from a feminist perspective -- something many reviewers through the decades have missed. I cannot fathom missing how someone who wrote Boys for Pele would be seen as anything other than a feminist, the woman that first spoke and gave the tagline from Silent All these Years to/for RAINN. So many thing Originally posted elsewhere on May 16, 2016 Since 1991 Tori Amos' music has helped countless fans heal, grow older with a shred of dignity and a ton of humor, and the book spells this all out clearly from a feminist perspective -- something many reviewers through the decades have missed. I cannot fathom missing how someone who wrote Boys for Pele would be seen as anything other than a feminist, the woman that first spoke and gave the tagline from Silent All these Years to/for RAINN. So many things are addressed in this book that it's impossible to list them all, and I will be reading it again, but I thought I should rate now or I'll forget. The feminist perspective in the research itself. Adrienne Trier-Bieniek's reasons for her methodology are clear and easy to read, and they lend themselves to the subject of Tori's music. There's a nice dance being done here between author and subject matter. The long insistence that we female fans are all little girls with fairy wings, and the men are all gay is so silly and outdated as to be pathetic, but sadly it stuck. Then there’s the competing “angry woman” thing. Notice how they only want to see one thing at a time? Why can’t you be both angry and love delving into myth? Tori has always been an excellent lesson in embracing one's shadow. Too often women and our full selves are quartered off and taken bit by bit, as if woman as whole person is just too hard. Loads of pop culture has taken that shape, and it's frustrating and more troubling: harmful. To write anything but love songs and happy pop songs is somehow "difficult" or "too angry" or “whiny.” The author is clear on that in her thesis, so the book dives right past that nonsense. My own thinking, which is not at all original, is that some press are either lazy or unable to open themselves to the real work. Everything is there in the music. An intelligent, open, emotionally-involved talent who doesn't have 10 press people speaking in soundbites for her is rare. Reviewers and interviewers were lazy and the lie was born. This author knows how to hear, and the book is well-written precisely because of that. Also, she probably wanted her doctorate ;) From the first words, it's clear this author is an writer with an ear for music. However, it's not written from a "fangrrl" perspective. The eye is on the research and the lessons taken from what she heard and learned from the fans interviewed along with other resources. On a personal note, I adore Tori Amos still after all these years and all the albums. Anyone can write a "female anthem" but to have a career spanning decades based on the intricacies of being *human* is a feat . Adrienne Trier-Bieniek looks at the give and take from woman to women and back again and spins a compelling narrative about how and why this all works so well.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Really fantastic topic--the only reason that I didn't give it 5 stars was because this book could have used a good proofreader, as many of the mistakes are unfortunately distracting from the book's overall message. Interviews with fans are the most interesting segments of the book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Hobson

    Great scholarship here not only on Tori Amos as an artist but on female fan culture. Trier-Bieniak's articulation of female fans helps reframe stereotypes of women and fan studies. I appreciated the sociological approach to the topic.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Julia

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bleranda Maliqi

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Anderson

  7. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jenny White

  9. 4 out of 5

    Karen

  10. 4 out of 5

    Charlie Rogers

  11. 5 out of 5

    April England

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jaimie

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

  14. 5 out of 5

    Roy Huff

  15. 5 out of 5

    Beatrice Yarbrough

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bryce Jans

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tracy London

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lily DuBois

  19. 4 out of 5

    Laurel

  20. 4 out of 5

    Beth

  21. 5 out of 5

    Grace

  22. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

  23. 4 out of 5

    Meredith

  24. 4 out of 5

    Pyxi

  25. 5 out of 5

    Becky

  26. 5 out of 5

    Isabelle

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Gates

  28. 5 out of 5

    Barry

  29. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Rinne

  30. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

  31. 5 out of 5

    Wayne

  32. 5 out of 5

    Erica Reed

  33. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

  34. 5 out of 5

    Crystal Chapa

  35. 5 out of 5

    JSA Lowe

  36. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Raisor

  37. 4 out of 5

    Eileen

  38. 5 out of 5

    Heather Mcdonough

  39. 4 out of 5

    Christian Ramirez osorio

  40. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Hills

  41. 4 out of 5

    Ella

  42. 5 out of 5

    Jay Thomas

  43. 5 out of 5

    Erin

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