Let me begin by writing that this column is inherently biased.
This Tuesday, the iconic diva releases The Annie Lennox Collection, her first solo Greatest Hits collection, which contains 12 classics from her four-album solo career over the past two decades and covers of two new tracks – "Shining Light" (a 2001 song by Ash, and this album's first single) and "Pattern of My Life" (by Keane).
Most successful artists are obligated to release these collections as a part of their label deals. Rarely are the collections worth revisiting. Annie's is a fine exception.
Included with the Collection is a Limited Edition Deluxe DVD, with 11 of her magnificent music videos. Annie has, after all, always been a visual artist as well as a musician. Revisiting the Dangerous Liaisons-themed "Walking On Broken Glass" video, the intimate "Why," the androgynous "No More I Love You's," the circus-themed "A Whiter Shade of Pale," the harlequin "Something So Right," the previous Annie's of "Little Birds"… I'm reminded that Britney and Madonna have borrowed more than a few concepts from La Lennox.
Rather than touring in support of this release, Annie is using her publicity tour to hold intelligent and intimate conversations with audiences. She sat down with Jon Pareles of the New York Times earlier last week, has planned an upcoming taped A&E special, and last Friday, I had the chance to hear her at the newly-opened Grammy Museum in downtown Los Angeles at L.A. Live.
As part of the museum's archives, Annie spent an hour and a half answering questions about her life and career, oftentimes completely overwhelming her interviewee. Despite meek audience questions (which felt more like statements from adulating fans, really), Annie appeared much more open about her life than in the past.
One particularly fun anecdote from Friday's event was her story about the formation of her band Eurythmics with partner Dave Stewart. She explained how the duo's origins from a previous band (The Tourists) stemmed from a trip to Bangkok in which their at-the-time third partner was on a drug-fueled binge. While she and Dave were out searching for him, they found a valuable bracelet on the street and when they couldn't find the owner, they sold it and with the money Dave bought a video camera. Bored, they played around making films of each other, and their blending of the visual medium with their music began.
But retrospection aside, perhaps the reason why Annie seems so open now at this point in her career is her involvement with the SING Campaign; her own personal non-profit effort begun in 2007 to fight the HIV & AIDS pandemic in Africa. With her passion for this cause, Annie the diva is now Annie the humanitarian.
Annie the performer, however, has never been afraid of expressing intense emotion on stage — just not, per se, always her own emotions. But in the past couple of years, she's started to share more of herself with the world; this has accompanied her efforts to change it.
The Annie Lennox Collection is an excellent introduction for the beginning student of La Lennox. It's also a great excuse to go back and re-listen to Diva (1992), Medusa (1995), Bare (2003) and Songs of Mass Destruction (2007) and experience the full journey of her solo career.
Annie has also blogged about the meaning of each of these songs to her.
To learn more about the SING campaign, CLICK HERE.
Related Content from AccessHollywood.com:
PLAY IT NOW: On The Download Music Video: Annie Lennox - 'Shining Light'
PLAY IT NOW: Annie Lennox Sings About 'Destruction'