Elizabeth Caroline Orton, commonly known as Beth Orton, (born December 14, 1970), is a BRIT Award–winning English singer-songwriter.
Perhaps best described as a folk/electronica artist, Beth Orton was born in East Dereham, Norfolk, and moved to East London at age 14. Orton found success as a musician late, having been more interested in acting during her early career. She first gained notice in 1995 for her vocals on The Chemical Brothers’ track “Alive Alone” and is well known for her collaboration (stemming from a relationship) with William Orbit in which she lends her voice for the Strange Cargo albums. The collaboration with Orbit named SuperPinkyMandy, though of excellent sound, was only released in very limited numbers in Japan.
Orton’s first solo album, Trailer Park, was released in 1996. It 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, selling 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.
Central Reservation, her second album (proper), released in 1999, 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. The album also featured notable contributions from folk musician Terry Callier, Dr Robert and Ben Harper. Several tracks were produced by Ben Watt of Everything But The Girl. The album earned Orton a second Mercury Music Prize nomination and won her Best Female 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 mixed reviews from the press.
Her fourth studio album, Comfort of Strangers, was released in February 2006 - the North American release through Astralwerks, the UK release coming through EMI-UK. The release sees her move away from the electronica element that she is usually associated with, to a more stripped down traditional alt-folk album. This 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. The album was produced by Jim O’Rourke.
Orton has also collaborated with American pop artist Beck on his Midnite Vultures album, providing vocals on the track “Beautiful Way”. She is also known for her own singles, “Stolen Car,” a hit within college circles and “She Cries Your Name,” once featured in the TV show Roswell in the “Cry Your Name” episode. She also wrote songs for the Erin Brockovich soundtrack.
Orton is also a well-known sufferer of Crohn’s Disease. However, in a recent interview with the Daily Telegraph she revealed that she had not suffered from the disease in the last three years after undergoing a strict analysis of what she ate. Brandy snaps, porridge (oats) and marmite were just three of the things she foreswore.
She was expecting her first child in December 2006.