Tori Amos loves SA red wine

15 November 2011 - 02:24 By BIENNE HUISMAN
Tori Amos performs to a sold-out audience at Emperors Palace, east of Johannesburg, at the weekend Picture: ALON SKUY
Tori Amos performs to a sold-out audience at Emperors Palace, east of Johannesburg, at the weekend Picture: ALON SKUY

American singer Tori Amos is a fervent women's rights activist known for ruffling feathers with her candid lyrics and views.

South African concert organisers have described her as "unpretentious" and having almost no backstage requirements - apart from wanting to sample local red wine.

The 48-year-old red-haired diva - who in 1996 sparked a media storm with an album cover featuring her breast-feeding a piglet - has requested water and "good red wine" during her time in Johannesburg and Cape Town this week.

Amos, whose hit singles include Cornflake Girl and Crucify, said before she arrived in the country that she was eager to stock up on South African wine for her cellar at home in Cornwall, England.

"I'm very excited about the wine. I have a cellar back home with mostly French and some Italian wine. I have never been exposed to South African wine and am eager to try it. I'm hoping to take some back home," she said.

Amos said that, while she never drank alcohol before she went on stage, she and her sound engineer husband, Mark Hawley, enjoyed a glass of wine with dinner.

"I never drink before shows. I drink Chinese tea and water. I also don't eat for at least three hours before a show. This ensures that I'm entirely clear," she said.

Her pre-show snack is chewing gum.

"I chew cinnamon gum before shows. This keeps my vocal cords wet, helping me to reach notes with lots of space to breathe."

Her current world tour is named for and based on her latest album, Night of Hunters, which was inspired by classical pieces and released in September.

"I've used the structure of a classical song cycle to tell an ongoing, modern story," said Amos.

GrandWest Casino's entertainment manager, Gavin Taylor, said: "She requested that we not sell the front row tickets as she [gives them to] fans on the day of her performance."

Amos appears in Cape Town on Thursday.

"Her backstage requests are for Evian water and good red wine, and she's more than happy to sample Cape wines," said Taylor.

"She hasn't asked for long lists of perishables as she apparently despises waste of any kind."

Amos has been open about having been sexually assaulted as a child growing up in Washington DC, and co-founded a rape and incest helpline in the US in 1994.