Beth Orton contributed vocals to Annie Lennox's record Sing
Born in Norfolk, she and her mother moved to London when Beth was 14 years old. She spent her late teens engrossed in a veritable plethora of music - 'The Beatles' White Album and 'Revolver', Leonard Cohen, Nick Drake, the Cocteau Twins, Joni Mitchell's 'Blue', Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, John Martyn, Shinehead, Blondie, the Beastie Boys, The Clash, Jimi Hendrix, The Specials, Eek-a-Mouse, Led Zeppelin, The Jam, Rickie Lee Jones, Rolling Stones, The Byrds, Prince, Kate Bush's 'The Kick Inside', even my mother's classical and opera records', she says.
Orton's debut came as one half of the duo Spill, a one-off project with Orbit recording a cover version of John Martyn's 'Don't Wanna Know About Evil'. She also worked with Orbit on his 1993 'Strange Cargo' project, co-writing and singing 'Water From a Vine Leaf'. Beth's path towards a solo career was further signposted when Orbit produced 'Superpinkymandy', a rare recording released only in Japan.
'Trailer Park', released in October 1996, was an intriguing step forward, blending Beth Orton's guitars with samples and beats on an album of starkly personal and sensual songs. The year 1997 proved very productive for Beth. She toured incessantly, supporting the likes of John Martyn, Tindersticks, John Cale, Mark Eitzel and Everything But The Girl before selling out her own headline tours and playing her first Glastonbury Festival.
Back in the studio, Orton collaborated with the Chemical Brothers once again, contributing a vocal to their smash hit number one album, 'Dig Your Own Hole', before recording her own 'Best Bit' EP, its soulful sound highlighted by Orton's two duets with the folk-jazz legend, Terry Callier.
Beth's second album, 'Central Reservation', was released in the spring of 1999. Terry Callier was again featured together with guest appearances from the likes of Dr. John, Ben Harper, Mazzy Star's David Roback and Ben Watt of Everything But The Girl. The album was far more reflective than 'Trailer Park', with dance beats exchanged for a purer folk sound.
In 1999 she returned to America for the annual Lilith Fair tour, followed by such prestigious dates as the Newport Folk Festival and, in 2000, her own headlining concert series, all of which came as she was riding a wave of commercial and critical success - indeed, 'Stolen Car' from 'Central Reservation' was Beth's first American hit.
It was to take another two years for Orton to release her third album, which came in July 2002. 'Daybreaker' was epic in its scope and ambition with a massive soundscape ranging from the Chemical Brothers-produced title track to the country inflections of 'God Song', a tune that featured guest vocalist Emmylou Harris.
'Daybreaker' was distinguished by an impressive array of producers, mixers and musicians. In addition to the Chemical Brothers, Beth Orton invited old friends and new conspirators William Orbit, Ben Watt, Johnny Marr, Jim Keltner, Ryan Adams and Victor Van Vugt to help shape the album's widescreen qualities.
It was an immediate success on both sides of the Atlantic, the accolades complemented by the applause for Beth Orton's powerful live show that toured Europe - including a sell out concert at London's Royal Albert Hall - and America in the wake of the album's release. By this time Beth Orton's reputation as both a songwriter and performer was such that her place in modern music was assured. Just as significantly, however, for Beth Orton 'Daybreaker' came as the closing statement, the final chapter, in her opening trilogy of albums. Her next recording would be very different indeed