Ann "Annie" Lennox, OBE (born 25 December 1954) is a Scottish singer-songwriter, political activist and philanthropist. After achieving minor success in the late 1970s as part of the New Wave band The Tourists, she and fellow musician David A. Stewart went on to achieve major international success in the 1980s as Eurythmics. Lennox is the most recognised female artist at the Brit Awards, winning a total of eight awards. She has also been named the "Brits Champion of Champions".
Lennox embarked on a solo career in the 1990s with her debut album, Diva (1992), which produced several hit singles including "Why" and "Walking on Broken Glass". To date, she has released five solo studio albums and a compilation album, The Annie Lennox Collection (2009). She is the recipient of eight Brit Awards, four Grammy Awards and an MTV Video Music Award. In 2002, Lennox received a Billboard Century Award; the highest accolade from Billboard Magazine. In 2004, she won both the Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Original Song for "Into the West", written for the soundtrack to the feature film The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
In addition to her career as a musician, Lennox is also a political and social activist, notable for raising money and awareness for HIV charities in Africa. 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 in 2009. In 2011, Lennox was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II for her "tireless charity campaigns and championing of humanitarian causes". On 4 June 2012, Lennox performed at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Concert in front of Buckingham Palace, London.
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. In 2012, Lennox was listed at number 22 on VH1's 100 Greatest Women in Music. She has earned the distinction of "most successful female British artist in UK music history" due to her commercial success since the early 1980s. Including her work within Eurythmics, Lennox has sold over 80 million records worldwide.
Lennox was born on Christmas Day, 1954, in Summerfield Maternity hospital, 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 tenement 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 to 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 in second place in a talent contest at a Butlins holiday camp. She sang the song "Mairi's Wedding".
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.
1976–1990: Dragon's Playground, The Tourists and EurythmicsEdit
In 1976, Lennox was flautist with a band called Dragon's Playground, leaving before they appeared on TV's New Faces. Between 1977 and 1980, she was the lead singer of The Tourists (initially known as The Catch), 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)", "Love Is A Stranger", "Here Comes the Rain Again", "Sisters Are Doin' 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". 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 and Amnesty International.
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 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. Though it was produced by Dave Stewart, it was credited to Lennox and Green. This one-off single peaked at No. 2 on the US Adult Contemporary chart, No. 9 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and was a top 40 hit in the UK. Lennox performed the song "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye", a Cole Porter song, that same year for a cameo appearance in the Derek Jarman film Edward II. She then made an appearance with David Bowie and the surviving members of Queen at 1992'sFreddie Mercury Tribute Concert at London's Wembley Stadium, performing "Under Pressure".
Lennox began working with former Trevor Horn protégé Stephen Lipson, beginning with her 1992 solo début album, Diva. It was a commercial and critical success, charting No. 1 in the UK, No. 6 in Germany, and No. 23 in the US where it went double platinum. Lennox's profile was boosted by Diva's singles, which included "Why" and "Walking on Broken Glass". "Why" won an MTV Award for Best Female Video at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards, while the video for "Walking on Broken Glass" featured the actors Hugh Laurie and John Malkovich. "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 a hit for Whitney Houston for the soundtrack of the film The Preacher's Wife. The song "Keep Young and Beautiful" was included on the CD release as a bonus track (the original vinyl album had only ten tracks).
The album entered the UK album chart at no.1 and has since sold over 1.2 million copies in the UK alone, being certified quadruple platinum. It was also a success in the US where it was a top 30 hit and has sold in excess of 2,700,000 copies. In 1993, the album was included in Q magazine's list of the "50 Best Albums of 1992". Rolling Stone magazine (25 June 1992, p. 41) described the album as "...state-of-the-art soul pop..." and it is included in Rolling Stone's (13 May 1999, p. 56) "Essential Recordings of the 90's" list. The album won Best British Album at the 1993 Brit Awards.
1995–2000: Medusa and return to EurythmicsEdit
Although Lennox's profile decreased for a period because of her desire to bring up her two children outside of the media's glare, she continued to record. Her second album, Medusa, was released in March 1995. It consisted solely ofcover songs, all originally recorded by male artists including Bob Marley and The Clash. It entered the UK album chart at No. 1 and peaked in the US at number 11, spending 60 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart and selling over 2,000,000 to date in the United States. It has achieved double platinum status in both the UK and the US. The album yielded four UK singles: "No More I Love You's" (which entered the UK singles chart at No. 2, Lennox's highest ever solo peak), "A Whiter Shade of Pale", "Waiting in Vain" and "Something So Right". The album was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album at the Grammy Awards of 1996, losing to Turbulent Indigo by Joni Mitchell, however, Lennox won the Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for the single "No More I Love You's". Though Lennox declined to tour for the album, she did perform a large scale one-off concert in New York's Central Park, which was filmed and later released on home video. Lennox also provided an extensive solo vocal performance (without lyrics) for the soundtrack score of the film Apollo 13 in 1995.
In 1997, Lennox re-recorded the Eurythmics track "Angel" for the Diana, Princess of Wales tribute album, and also recorded the song "Mama" for The Avengers soundtrack album. In 1998, following the death of a mutual friend (former Tourists member Peet Coombes), she re-united with Dave Stewart. Following their first performance together in eight years at a record company party, Stewart and Lennox began writing and recording together for the first time since 1989. This resulted in the album Peace. The title was designed to reflect the duo's ongoing concern with global conflict and world peace. The record was promoted with a concert on the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior II, where they played a mixture of old and new songs. "I Saved the World Today" was the lead single, reaching number eleven on the UK singles chart. Another single, released at the beginning of 2000, "17 Again", made the UK top 40, and topped the US dance chart. In 2002, Lennox received a Billboard Century Award; the highest accolade from Billboard Magazine, with Editor-in-Chief Timothy White describing her as one of "the most original and unforgettably affecting artists in the modern annals of popular music."
2003–2007: Bare and work in AfricaEdit
In 2003, Lennox released her third solo album, Bare. The album peaked at No. 3 in the UK and No. 4 in the US – her highest charting album in the US to date. She embarked on her first tour as a solo artist to promote the album. The tour, simply titled Solo Tour, pre-dated the release of the album and visited both the US and Europe, with only a two-night stop in the UK at Saddler's Wells Theatre in London. The album has been certified Gold in both the UK and the US and was nominated for Best Pop Album at the 46th Grammy Awards. The album was released with a DVD which included interviews and acoustic versions of songs by Lennox. The Japanese edition of the album features a version of Lennox's earlier hit "Cold" recorded live in Toronto.
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, 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 2005, Lennox and Stewart collaborated on two new songs for their 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. The single peaked at number fourteen in the UK Singles Chart and was a number-one US Dance hit. On 14 November 2005, Sony BMG repackaged and released Eurythmics' back catalogue as 2005 Deluxe Edition Reissues. Lennox also collaborated with Herbie Hancock doing the song "Hush, Hush, Hush" on his collaboration album, Possibilities in August 2005.
2007–2008: Songs of Mass Destruction and AIDS activismEdit
Ending her long association with Stephen Lipson, Lennox's fourth solo album, Songs of Mass Destruction, was recorded in Los Angeles with veteran producer Glen Ballard (known for producing Alanis Morissette's album, Jagged Little Pill). It was released on 1 October 2007, and was the last studio album of Lennox's contract with BMG. It peaked at No. 7 in the UK and No. 9 in the US. 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 [it], 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."
The album's first single was "Dark Road", released on 24 September 2007. Another song on the album, "Sing", is a collaboration between Lennox and 23 prominent female artists: Anastacia, Isobel Campbell, Dido, Céline 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. The song was recorded to raise money and awareness for the HIV/AIDS organisation Treatment Action Campaign. Included among the group of vocalists 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 lasted throughout October and November 2007. The tour had 18 stops: London, San Diego, New York City (two dates), Boston. The venues generally were at medium-size theatres, except in New York, where one of the dates was a United Nations fundraiser at the Midtown restaurant Cipriani.
2008–2009: The Annie Lennox Collection and departing from SonyEdit
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 track listing 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". The other is a cover of a song by the English band Keane, originally the B-side of their first single in 2000. Lennox renamed the song from its original title "Closer Now" to "Pattern of My Life". A limited 3-disc edition of the album included a DVD compilation featuring most of Lennox's solo videos since 1992, and also featured 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 No. 2 and remained in the top 10 for seven weeks.
Lennox's recording contract with Sony BMG concluded with the release of Songs of Mass Destruction and the 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 inflamed 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 with them had merely been fulfilled and that they hoped she would consider remaining with them. The British tabloid, Daily Mirror, subsequently printed a retraction of its story about her being dropped by the label.
2010–present: Island Records and A Christmas CornucopiaEdit
In August 2010, Lennox signed a new contract with Island Records in the UK and Decca Records in the US (both part of the Universal Music Group). Her first release was a Christmas album entitled A Christmas Cornucopia, issued on 15 November 2010. The album is a collection of Lennox's interpretations of traditional festive songs such as "Silent Night" and "The First Noel", along with one new composition, "Universal Child", which was released as a download-only single on 13 October 2010. Lennox had previously showcased the song on the American Idol Gives Back TV show in April 2010. She sang the song "Angels from the Realms of Glory" from the album for the TNT special Christmas in Washington.
A music video was produced for a second single from the album, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen". Lennox also performed the track on the UK chat show Loose Women in December 2010, and was also interviewed.
According to Metacritic, A Christmas Cornucopia has gained "generally favourable reviews". Ian Wade of BBC Music gave the album a very positive review, saying "this collection could find itself becoming as much a part of the holiday season as arguments with loved ones." Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine awarded the album 3.5/5 and said "Lennox seems more inspired on A Christmas Cornucopia than she has in years." John Hunt of Qatar Todaymagazine gave the album 9/10 and said "in particular, the vocal work and musical arrangement of 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen' are impactful to the point of being intimidating."