Singer-songwriter, pianist, composer, and eight-time Grammy Award nominee Tori Amos will address the graduates at the Peabody Conservatory’s Commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 22, in Miriam A. Friedberg Concert Hall. Amos, who studied piano at the Peabody Preparatory from 1968 to 1974, is among the most influential solo artists of her generation, known for piano-driven songs written on themes of feminism, family, sexuality, politics, and religion.
From her 1992 breakthrough album Little Earthquakes to 2017’s Native Invader, Amos has maintained a distinctly personal voice and achieved recording industry success, with seven of her 15 commercial albums debuting in the top 10 of the Billboard 200. She has performed more than 1,000 shows since her first world tour in 1992 and, in 2003, was voted fifth best touring act by the readers of Rolling Stone magazine. Between 2011 and 2013, Amos spent a sabbatical in the classical world working with the German musicologist Alexander Buhr on her 2011 album Night of the Hunters, which pays tribute to composers such as Bach, Chopin, and Debussy, and features the string quartet Apollon Musagete. Her stage musical The Light Princess premiered at London’s Royal National Theatre in 2013.
A longtime advocate for victims of sexual assault, Amos was the first spokesperson for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), a crisis hotline for sexual assault victims. Her semi-autobiographical 1991 song “Me and a Gun” has become something of an anthem for the #MeToo movement. Amos continues her involvement with RAINN as a member of their National Leadership Council.
In honor of her singular career and outsized impact, Amos will also be awarded this year’s George Peabody Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Music in America. The highest honor bestowed by the Peabody Institute, the George Peabody Medal has been presented since 1980. Previous Peabody Medal winners have included Leon Fleisher, Yo-Yo Ma, Jessye Norman, Kim Kashkashian, Libby Larsen, Isaac Stern, André Watts, and Oscar Peterson.
“I am so honored to be receiving the Peabody Medal,” said Amos. “When I look back to my time at Johns Hopkins and then to where I am now, and to be receiving this prestigious award, it is truly overwhelming. The 5-year-old inside of me is skipping with joy and gratitude.”
This year marks the Peabody Conservatory’s 137th graduation exercises, where 70 Bachelor of Music degrees, 123 Master of Music degrees, ten Master of Arts degrees, 28 Graduate Performance Diplomas, one Performer’s Certificate, and 15 Doctor of Musical Arts degrees are scheduled to be conferred. The ceremony, which begins at 10:00 am on Wednesday, May 22, will be livestreamed.