Beth Orton

Beth Orton

Infobox musical artist
Name = Beth Orton

Img_capt = Beth Orton performs live in Seattle, 2002
Img_size =
Landscape = yes
Background = solo_singer
Birth_name = Elizabeth Caroline Orton
Alias =
Born = birth date and age|1970|12|14
East Dereham, Norfolk, England
Died =
Origin = Norwich, England
Instrument = Vocals, Acoustic guitar
Genre = Folk, Electronica
Occupation = Singer-songwriter
Years_active = 1993–present
Label = Heavenly (1996–2005)
EMI-UK (2005–present)
Astralwerks (2003-present)
Associated_acts = The Chemical Brothers, William Orbit
URL = []
Notable_instruments =

Elizabeth Caroline Orton, [cite web | work = ASCAP ACE | title = Search results| url =,s,w,p,b,v&results_pp=30&start=1 | accessdate = 2006-09-11 ] commonly known as Beth Orton, (born December 14, 1970), is a BRIT Award–winning English singer-songwriter. Known for her "folktronica" sound, which mixes elements of folk and electronica, she was initially recognized 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 movies and TV shows 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.

Early career

Orton was born in East Dereham, Norfolk, then raised on a pig farm in Norwich, before moving to East London at age fourteen. Her father, an architectural draftsman, left her mother when Beth was eleven, and she lived with her mother, an artist and political activist, and her two brothers, her father dying shortly afterwards. [Q Magazine, issue 56, page 202] ["Emotional Rescue", Daily Telegraph, 28 January 2006, p32] Her mother died from cancer in 1989, when Beth was aged 19, ["Emotional Rescue", Daily Telegraph, 28 January 2006, p35] , which led to her travelling to Thailand for a short period, residing with Buddhist nuns. Orton found success as a musician relatively late, having first worked at menial jobs such as waitressing at Pizza Hut and even owning her own catering company. [An Interview With Beth Orton, Heavenly Recordings, BETH002, 1999] She was also 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 with a fringe theatre company throughout the UK, Russia and Ukraine, playing Rimbaud's lover. [Beth Orton]

inging career

Early work

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 before long 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. It was also at this time that Orbit and Orton covered John Martyn's "Don't Wanna Know 'Bout Evil", which was not only the first song that they recorded together, but also the first release as a duet called Spill in Japan, which was also re-released in 1997 in the UK.


Shortly after, Orton and Orbit began experimenting to pull an L.P. together. "Don't Wanna Know 'Bout Evil" was the first track on that album, called "SuperPinkyMandy", named after a rag doll which she bought at a jumble sale at the age of six. [Morning Becomes Eclectic, first aired 30 May 1997] This rare album was released in Japan alone, in extremely limited numbers (popularly quoted as between 1000 and 5000 copies pressed). The sound is very much Orbit's, but several songs were co-written, and some tracks were later recycled, in very different versions). "She Cries Your Name" later appeared on what she now considers her debut album ("Trailer Park"). "Yesterday's Gone" became "Montok Point" for the fourth Strange Cargo release "Hinterland" in 1995. That album featured Beth on several tracks as vocalist, and also included an alternative version of "She Cries Your Name".

It was roughly at this time that she met Ed and Tom of the Chemical Brothers in a pub, and began the first in a series of collaborations, supplying vocals to the track "Alive Alone" on 1995's "Exit Planet Dust".

"Trailer Park"

Her first solo release, a cover of The Ronettes' "I Wish I Never Saw the Sunshine" was released, again in extremely limited numbers, in mid 1996, and was followed by "She Cries Your Name", shortly before the release of what she herself considers to be her debut L.P. "Trailer Park", released on Heavenly Records on 19 October 1996. This release earned her nominations for two BRIT Awards (best British newcomer, best British female), and the Mercury Music Prize in 1997, was well received by critics, and sold modestly well, shifting 300,000 copies and peaking at #68 in the UK. The album was produced by Andrew Weatherall, whom she selected based on his production of one of her favourite records at the time, Primal Scream's Screamadelica. The album was far removed from her previous work, with a lot more pop/folk tunes present, although there were more than a few hints of her electronic roots. She began to tour this record, first supporting acts such as The Beautiful South, and appearing with Ron Sexsmith, before breaking out on her own. In June 1997, she had her first UK Top 40 hit single, with a reissue of "She Cries Your Name".

"Central Reservation"

She toured that summer with Lilith Fair, as well as releasing the "Best Bit" EP, improving on her previous best chart position, reaching #38 in the UK. "Central Reservation", her second album (proper), helped Orton build on the success of her debut. Although retaining the electronic edge of the former, this record showed a notably more acoustic side with several tracks consisting purely of Beth's vocal accompanied by a solitary acoustic guitar, with subject matters becoming more introspective, including "Pass in Time", a song about the death of her mother. Despite this style, the album still provided more polished moments such as lead single "Stolen Car" and the electro melancholy of "Stars All Seem to Weep", or the jazz-and-strings-tinged "Sweetest Decline", songs which cut a much deeper mark than the more glossy feel of her debut. The album also featured notable contributions from folk musician Terry Callier, Dr. Robert and Ben Harper. Two tracks were also produced by Ben Watt of Everything But The Girl.

The album earned Orton a second Mercury Music Prize nomination and the Best Female Artist award at the 2000 BRIT Awards.


In July 2002 she released the album "Daybreaker", which again blended the early electronica style, with up tempo pop songs and acoustic ballads. It featured guest appearances from musicians such as The Chemical Brothers, Emmylou Harris, whom she met at Lilith Fair, Ryan Adams and Four Tet. It was a great commercial success, reaching the top 8 of the UK album chart, but received largely positive from the press, ranging from "Her best work yet" from "Mojo" magazine, [New album reviews, Mojo Magazine, p.102,August 2002)] the "NME" (8/10), [New album reviews, "New Musical Express", p.33, 27 July 2002] "Rolling Stone" [New album reviews, "Rolling Stone", p.72, 25 July, 2002] and "The Guardian", but receiving a more lukewarm reception from "Q" [New album reviews, Q Magazine, p.132, August 2002] (Despite this she was nominated for the Q award for best album). This was followed in 2003 by an U.S. only release on American label Astralwerks, "The Other Side of Daybreak", an album consisting mainly of b-sides and remixes of songs from "Daybreaker", created by artists such as Roots Manuva. She also contributed a song to the War Child charity, for their "Hope" compilation album that year.

A "best of" double album, entitled "Pass In Time", was released in 2003. It represented Orton's extensive and diverse musical career through previously unreleased songs, b-sides, and rarities (such as "Where Do You Go" from "Superpinkymandy"), as well as collaborations with William Orbit and the Chemical Brothers. The highlight of her career arguably came on 31 March 2003, when she played to a packed Royal Albert Hall in London on the last date of her worldwide "Daybreaker" tour. In addition, she played a tribute concert to Elliott Smith in November.

"Comfort of Strangers"

Orton's fourth studio album "Comfort of Strangers" was released in February 2006. The North American release was through Astralwerks, and the UK release was through EMI-UK. The release saw her move away from the electronica element that she is usually associated with, to a more stripped down traditional alt-folk album. This album followed an extended absence since her previous release, partially a result of several failed production attempts, and the parting of ways between her and Heavenly. [Beth Orton Bares All] The album was produced by the musician Jim O'Rourke.


Her consistent band since 1999's "Central Reservation" has been guitarist Ted Barnes, keyboardist Sean Read, ex-Sandals drummer Will Blanchard and former Red Snapper member Ali Friend on bass. However, this has changed, as Ali and Ted have moved on to form their own band Clayhill, and in addition Ted has pursued his own projects, with Beth guesting on his solo debut album, Short Scenes. Only Sean remains in her current live band, although Clayhill have played as the support act on both her UK and US tours to promote "Comfort of Strangers". Her current band consists of Leroy Bach, drummer Matt Johnson and upcoming guitarist Emmett Kelly.

ING with Annie Lennox

Annie Lennox joined forces with Beth Orton and 22 other female artists to raise awareness of mother-to-child transmission of HIV to unborn children in Africa. The single "Sing" was first released on World AIDS Day on December 1, 2007, in conjunction with Annie Lennox's appearance at the Nelson Mandela 46664 concert in South Africa. [] []

New Album

Beth is currently in pre production of her follow up album to "Comfort Of Strangers", the album is expected to be released in the winter of 2008.

Personal life

Orton has been romantically linked with a number of high profile musicians, including William Orbit and Ryan Adams. [Smash it up!,, December 2003. Retrieved 11th September, 2006] Adams' songs "English Girls Approximately", "You Will Always Be The Same" & "Friends/For Beth" were written about her.

Orton gave birth to a daughter, Nancy, in mid-December 2006. [ [ Precious Maybe - Beth Orton Forum -> IT'S A GIRL! (Official) ] ] . She cancelled her September 2006 UK tour because of her pregnancy. ["Beth's pregnancy retrieved 21st December, 2006]

She is a well known opponent of the War on Terror, and played at the "One Big No" concert in March 2003 at the Shepherd's Bush Empire in London, organised by Emily Eavis. [ One Big NO, anti-war gig, 2003, retrieved 11 September 2006]

In the Telegraph interview she revealed that in the past she had shunned several opportunities to raise her public profile, on ethical grounds. Such opportunities included becoming the face of Calvin Klein, representing the Gap (which, according to some sources, use sweatshops to manufacture their clothes), and promoting the sales of her records at Starbucks coffee outlets. While she is a supporter of Fairtrade, she has subsequently relented on this last stance.

All of her recent releases are "carbon neutral", whereby a tree is planted in a poor area of Mexico for every certain amount of units produced to offset the emissions generated when pressing the CDs, and other marketing paraphernalia. [Carbon Neutral retrieved 11 September 2006]

She has also been offered the opportunity to return to her first love, acting. Having played the lead female in the independent film "Southlander", she was offered to audition for the role of John Cusack's girlfriend in the film "High Fidelity", but didn't accept the invitation (the part went to Iben Hjejle). Beth also wrote music for the "Erin Brockovich" soundtrack. She does state that she would act, if an appropriate part came up for her.

Orton is a well-known sufferer from Crohn's Disease. [ Famous Ostomates & IBD Patients retrieved 11 September 2006]



*"SuperPinkyMandy" (Japan only - 1993)
*"Trailer Park" (1996) - UK #68
*"Central Reservation" (1999) - U.S. #110, UK #17
*"Daybreaker" (2002) - U.S. #40, UK #8
*"The Other Side of Daybreak" (2003)
*"" (2003) UK #45
*"Comfort of Strangers" (February 2006) - U.S. #93, CAN #89, UK #24


*"Best Bit EP" (14 December 1997) #36 UK
*"Concrete Sky EP" (15 July 2002)


*"Don't Wanna Know 'Bout Evil" (as Spill) (1992)
*"I Wish I Never Saw the Sunshine" (1997)
*"She Cries Your Name" (26 September 1996) #76 UK
*"Touch Me with Your Love" (1997) #60 UK
*"Someone's Daughter" (24 March 1997) #49 UK
*"She Cries Your Name" (re-issue) (2 June 1997) #40 UK
*"Stolen Car" (22 February 1999) #34 UK
*"Central Reservation" (13 September 1999) #37 UK
*"Anywhere" (2002) #55 UK
*"Thinking About Tomorrow" (2003) #57 UK
*"Conceived" (29 November 2005 - Digital download, 30 January 2006) #44 UK
*"Shopping Trolley" (26 June 2006) #87 UK

Guest spots / rarities

*Alive Alone - vocalist on the song from the Chemical Brothers' "Exit Planet Dust".
*Beautiful Way - a duet found on Beck's "Midnite Vultures".
*Brown Sugar - a duet with Ryan Adams, featured in a free CD from "Uncut".
*Dice - a Finley Quaye song sampling Beth's vocals from 'Roll The Dice', originally from her album "SuperPinkyMandy".
*Frankie - live recording of the Mississippi John Hurt folk ballad on the "The Harry Smith Project: The Anthology of American Folk Music Revisited" compilation.
*In Deep - vocalist on Red Snapper's album "Reeled and Skinned".
*Inside - guesting on New Buffalo's album "The Last Beautiful Day".
*Katie Cruel - a duet with Bert Jansch on his album "Black Swan".
*Kiss of the Bee - from "Strange Cargo: Hinterland", with William Orbit.
*Love Can Do - found on Terry Callier's "Lifetime".
*Million Town - from "Strange Cargo: Hinterland", with William Orbit.
*No Expectations - recorded with Beck, unreleased.
*Ooh Child - a cover of the Five Stairsteps' song contributed to the Warchild charity's "Hope" compilation album.
*She Cries Your Name - an early version from Strange Cargo: Hinterland", with William Orbit.
*Sisters of Mercy - a cover of the Leonard Cohen song, for the "" OST.
*Snapper - vocalist on Red Snapper's album "Reeled and Skinned".
*Ted's Waltz (remaster) - an alternative version of her own song, appearing on her guitarist Ted Barnes' album, "Short Scenes".
*The State We're In - vocalist on the song from the Chemical Brothers' "Come With Us".
*Untouchable (Part 2) - a duet with Princess Superstar on her album "Is".
*Watch the Stars - a duet with Bert Jansch on his album "Black Swan".
*Water From a Vine Leaf - vocalist on the song from "Strange Cargo III", with William Orbit.
*When the Sun Comes Up - a duet with Bert Jansch on his album "Black Swan".
*Where Do I Begin - vocalist on the song from the Chemical Brothers' "Dig Your Own Hole".
*Wild World - a cover of the Cat Stevens' song, for the "How To Deal" OST.Coming soon
*Sunny Afternoon - a duet with Ray Davies on a tribute album to the Kinks' frontman


*"Charmed: 9 February 2003 'Sand Francisco Dreamin' (Season 5, Episode 14)


ee also

*List of singer-songwriters

External links

* [ Beth Orton] Official site (UK)* [ Astralwerks site] Official site (North America)
* [] Site with up-to-date news, articles and information
*imdb name|id=0651347|name=Beth Orton

Navbox musical artist
name = Beth Orton
background = solo_artist
title = Beth Orton

group1 = Studio albums
list1 = "Superpinkymandy" ! " Trailer Park" ! "Central Reservation" ! "Daybreaker " ! "Comfort of Strangers"

group2 = Compilations
list2 = "Pass In Time" ! "The Other Side of Daybreak"

group3 = EP's
list3 = "Best Bit

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