This month, one of the most influential women in music Annie Lennox received the prestigious Music Industry Trusts Award [MITS]. After decades in the business the songwriter, frontwoman and charity campaigner was a worthy winner of an award that recognises her lifetime of work.
Born in 1954 in Scotland, she first made her name in the 70’s with new wave band The Tourists before teaming up with fellow musician David Stewart forming Eurythmics. The duo went on to achieve fame internationally selling hoards of albums worldwide and becoming one of the success stories of the 80’s. During this time, Lennox became famous for her soulful vocals as well as her androgynous style and cropped bright hair.
In 1990, the pair went their separate ways but that wasn’t the end of her music career. As in 1992, she released her debut solo album ‘Diva’, which entered the UK album charts at number 1 selling over 1.2 million copies and earning a quadruple platinum certification. Since then she’s released four more studio albums, the most recent being ‘A Christmas Cornucopia’, as well as 2009’s compilation album ‘The Annie Lennox Collection’. In the late 90’s, Eurythmics reformed releasing ‘Peace’ the first album of new music from the pair in over a decade and touring, all profits of which going to Greenpeace and Amnesty International.
Though music may be her livelihood she is well known for her charity work as a vegetarian, supporter of animal rights and a gay icon after years raising awareness of HIV/AIDs. She’s written songs where all proceeds go to charity, spoken at parliament, performed on Comic Relief and at 2007’s Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony in Oslo as well as leading campaigns against the Gaza War and the suffering in Burma.
All this is work which she is hugely passionate about saw her recognised with an OBE in 2010’s New Year’s Honours List that she received in from the Queen on 28th June 2011. As a respected figure that she has also been honoured with an exhibition at London’s V&A Museum from September 2011 to February 2012. ‘The House of Annie Lennox’ spanned her entire life and comprised of stage costumes from Eurythmics days, photos, awards, political campaign memorabilia and personal belongings all on display plus music videos and interviews played throughout.
As one of the most successful female musicians in terms of album sales and longevity she has found in an unstable industry is an impressive feat. Along with the array of awards she’s won in her nearly 40 year music career from being the most recognised female in Brit Awards history winning 8 awards including Outstanding Contribution to Music with Stewart for Eurythmics in 1999 to being named the Brit Champion of Champions. She’s also picked up Grammy’s, 4 Ivor Novello’s, an MTV VMA, a Golden Globe, Lifetime Achievement awards, Inspirational Woman of the Year awards and 5 Honorary Degrees from 4 different universities.
Her varied and wonderful career has led to her most recent accolade, the MITS she received on 4th November. In their 22nd year, the MITS are extremely prestigious and Lennox was honoured for her contribution to music and charity. Peter Gabriel, himself a MITS recipient, presented her award and the likes of Adele, Stephen Fry and Archbishop Desmond Tutu all paid tribute to the icon with Adele stating how much of an inspiration she has been to her;
“Annie Lennox has been a constant part of my life. An example of a brilliant talent that exudes excellence and influence on everyone. So many of her songs have been the soundtrack to my life.”
Lennox performed 6 songs from her back catalogue at the ceremony including ‘There Must Be An Angel’, ‘Here Comes The Rain’ and ‘1000 Beautiful Things’. Attending the ceremony with her family, Lennox accepted the award with gratitude and a humble attitude;
“I’m very touched and honoured to receive this Award. Music has given me a lifetime of experiences and opportunities that I would never have dreamed possible, and I feel very privileged to have been able to become an artist and communicator, especially as a woman.”
Respect and admiration are things Lennox truly deserves after empowering women by becoming an icon succeeding on her own terms. Having made a mark over the years not just musically and politically but even with her own trademark style that saw a shift in the way women dress which is still prevalent today.
Written by Charlotte Pearson