She Rock: Fiona Apple
Fiona Apple is a study in contradictions: She looks no older than 12 (all awkward angles and startling, wide blue eyes), croons with the smoky been-there-done-that of a 30-year-old and wears her heart on her sleeve with the innocence and bravado of a teenager. Which she is. The New York native, 19, has been playing piano and writing songs since early childhood. She caught the ear of Wallflowers manager Andy Slater at a Christmas party when the hostess (who employed Apple's friend as a baby sitter) popped the neophyte's demo tape into the stereo. Slater took her on, and less than a year later, Apple has delivered her critically acclaimed debut, Tidal.
As with Tori Amos' Little Earthquakes, the personal tragedy of rape colors some of Apple's music: "Sullen Girl" recounts the emotional aftermath of her rape at age 12 in her Manhattan apartment building. "The reason I'm honest about it is because I want to help bring it to a level where it's not taboo to talk about," she says. But opening herself up to audiences night after night on her current U.S. tour can take its toll. "When I go home, all this stress will come out, and I'll kick my wall, going, 'I can't believe I chose this life. I can't believe all this bulls---.'" she says. "Then I'll feel good because I'll have gotten it out. And I'll be recharged for the next day."