The Gig Cartel - Artist profiles: Beth Orton

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Beth Orton

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Elizabeth Caroline Orton, commonly known as Beth Orton, is a BRIT Award–winning English singer-songwriter. Known for her "folktronica" sound, which mixes elements of folk and electronica, she was initially recognised for her collaborations with William Orbit and the Chemical Brothers in the mid 1990s — but these were not Orton's first recordings. She released a solo album, Superpinkymandy, in 1993. Since the album was only released in Japan, it went largely unnoticed by international audiences. Her second solo album, Trailer Park, garnered much critical acclaim in 1996. With the release of the albums Central Reservation (1999) and the 2002 UK top 10 album Daybreaker, Beth developed a devoted fan base. On her 2006 release, Comfort of Strangers, she has moved towards a more folk-based sound and away from the electronic sound of past albums.

American films and television programmes such as Felicity, How to Deal, Charmed, Dawson's Creek, Vanilla Sky and Grey's Anatomy have featured her music and provided her with exposure to an American mainstream audience.
Born in East Dereham, Norfolk, on 14th December 1970, she then moved to Norwich where she was then raised on a pig farm. In 1985 she moved to East London. Her father, an architectural draughtsman, left her mother, an artist and political activist, when Beth was eleven, she lived with her mother and her two brothers. Her father died shortly afterwards. In 1989 after the death of her mother from cancer Beth travelled to Thailand, where she resided with Buddhist nuns. Beth was late onto the music scene having previously worked as a waitress at Pizza Hut and even owned her own catering company. She was 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’ playing Rimbaud's lover with a fringe theatre company throughout the UK, Russia and Ukraine.

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 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 co-wrote and which was released as a limited-edition single. As a duet called Spill, William Orbit and Beth released a cover version of John Martyn's "Don't Wanna Know 'Bout Evil", this was the first song that they recorded together, initially released in Japan, it was re-released in the UK in 1997.


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