Meredith Brooks Bio - Biography

Name Meredith Brooks
Naionality American
Date of Birth 12 June 1958
Place of Birth Oregon City, Oregon, USA
Famous for
More than anything else, the career of Meredith Brooks exemplifies the notion that doing what you love — combined with dogged persistence — almost always leads to success. Although her career in music extends across nearly two decades, it was only two years ago, when she came up with a petulant little pop song titled "Bitch," that she managed to catch the world's ear. And perhaps that's for the best. Where others have sometimes been destroyed — or at least changed — by fame, Brooks has managed her good fortune with grace, and with an eye firmly fixed on ethical principles she's embraced through the years.

Born in Oregon City (just outside Portland), Brooks was raised in the small town of Corvallis, Ore., where her father was employed as county sheriff and her mother worked as an interior designer. An intense and creative child, Brooks skipped a year and a half of school, and managed to graduate when she was just 15. Her first public performance took place in kindergarten, but her true introduction to music came via her older sibling. At age 11, Brooks appropriated her sister's guitar, and began copying licks from Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton, and Pretenders albums. By the time she finished high school, she was fluent on the instrument.

Getting encouragement from her parents, Brooks played in a variety of bands in the Portland and Seattle area in her mid teens. She also started writing and recording demo tapes, one of which was released in 1997 — 13 years after it was made — as See It Through My Eyes. Essentially, however, these were apprenticeship years, and ultimately Brooks decided she would have better luck plying her trade elsewhere. To that end, she headed for L.A. in 1986, with the goal of becoming more than "just another girl guitar player."

For a while it appeared Brooks would be just that. Initially, Los Angeles appeared no more receptive to her music than Oregon had been, but in 1988 things took a turn for the better when former Go-Go Charlotte Caffey invited Brooks to join her glam-girl group the Graces. Though commercial success eluded the band (the group did manage to record and release one album on A&M Records, titled Perfect View, before breaking up in 1991), Brooks has since characterized her stint with the group as happy and productive. During this time, she also evidenced a growing interest in metaphysics, psychology, and yoga.

In the aftermath of the Graces' breakup, Brooks' focus on music was subsumed by a spiritual quest. Throughout the early '90s, she immersed herself in charitable work, spoke to women's groups, counseled with teenage runaways, and underwent therapy herself. Brooks also founded Planet Art, an organization geared toward turning creative enterprises into businesses. She never abandoned music entirely, however, and indeed the professional down-time served to prepare her for a new beginning. As she later told USA Today, "I had my dysfunctions, but music gave me peace and joy. I never felt in tune with the world. My parents always saw me as an artist, and that greatly influenced me. My art was my autonomy."

As it turned out, the mid '90s proved to be an especially congenial time for Brooks to reassert herself professionally — thanks, in part, to the Alanis Morissette hit "You Oughta Know." Sensing commercial promise in a Brooks composition titled "Bitch," Capitol Records signed the singer-guitarist to a contract, and released the song as a single in March of 1997. Five weeks later, Brooks' debut solo album, Blurring the Edges, was in record stores as well. Though "Bitch" was decidedly less venomous than Morissette's hit, the song's aggressive vocals and mild rancor triggered inevitable comparisons. Occasionally Brooks bristled at assertions she was riding Morissette's coattails (she had, in actuality, expected to be likened to Sheryl Crow), but any rancor was hard to sustain as she watched "Bitch" rapidly climb the charts.

By August 1997, both "Bitch" and Blurring the Edges had reached platinum status. (Blurring the Edges has since gone on to sell more than 3 million copies.) That fall, Brooks embarked on a world tour — which included five Lilith Fair dates — that saw her performing in the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia, and Japan. This swirl of activity continued into 1998, as Brooks further solidified her standing as one of rock and roll's most popular new figures, particularly among the Lilith set. Even a harrowing incident that occurred in South America (specifically, an Argentine audience pelted Brooks with objects as she performed as opening act for the Rolling Stones) proved to be only a temporary setback, and indeed Brooks handled the incident with great aplomb. That fall, she also wrote and recorded a song, "Sin City," for the Nicolas Cage film Snake Eyes.

In the midst of these goings-on, Brooks continued to embrace endeavors that reflected her growing social concerns. Barely taking time to reflect on the accolades garnered by Blurring the Edges ("Bitch" earned her two MTV Video Award Nominations, as well as a Grammy nomination for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance), Brooks launched an organization called AMP — Anybody's Mentoring Program — and embarked on a speaking tour of West Coast inner-city high schools. Similar in approach to Planet Art, the goal of AMP is to "encourage high school students to network with each other and their community in order to gain resources necessary to explore their creativity and succeed." Brooks also created "Meredith Mondays," a section on her official Web site that allowed fans to follow her progress as she recorded songs for the follow-up to Blurring the Edges.

On Sept. 28, 1999, that follow-up was released. Titled Deconstruction, the album finds Brooks injecting elements of hip-hop into the pop-rock style that characterized her previous work. As was the case with Blurring the Edges, Brooks handles all the guitar parts herself, and mixes up-tempo material with introspective balladry. The first single from the album, "Lay down," is a cover of the 1970 hit by Melanie, and features vocal backing from fellow Lilith Fair alumnus Queen Latifah.

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