Natalie Merchant

  • Alt Rock musician and songwriter, born in 1963 in Jamestown New York.
  • While a student at Jamestown Community College, she joined a local band Still Life in 1981. The band soon became 10,000 Maniacs, and Merchant was the lead vocalist and primary lyricist. She was part of 7 studio albums released by the band from 1982 until 1993. Her last recording was on MTV Unplugged, where the band covered the Patti Smith/Bruce Springsteen song Because the Night. It was released as a single, and it became the highest charting single for 10,000 Maniacs, peaking at #11.
  • Merchant released her debut solo album, Tigerlily, in 1995. To keep creative control, she funded the album herself. It was a big success, selling over 5 million copies in the U.S. The 3 singles from the album all charted – Carnival at #10, Wonder at #20 and Jealousy at #23.
  • She released her next album in 1998 – Ophelia. It is unique in that she invited musicians that she had met over the years to come to her home studio to participate in the recording. With that, 30 different musicians are featured on the album. The record peaked at #8 on the Billboard 100 album chart, and 3 singles – Kind & Generous, Break Your Heart, and Life is Sweet charted on the Adult Top 40 chart.
  • She released 8 more albums between 2001 and 2017. Sales have been modest. Her albums have evolved to more of a folk music sound. Her 2015 album, Paradise Is There: The New Tigerlily Recordings, are new versions of each of the songs from her debut album from 1995. Her 2017 album Butterfly are songs that feature Merchant’s vocal with a string quartet and piano.
  • She has focused on several social issues, including animal rights, domestic violence, anti-fracking, and homelessness.
  • Merchant is a classic 90s alternative rocker that has evolved over the years into an artist that doesn’t care about record sales or winning over a new generation of music lovers. Her years with 10,000 Maniacs and her early solo work earned her a following of lovers of her music, and she continues to entertain them today. She is a pioneer of the “independent woman in music” movement that gained momentum in the 90s with the Lilith Fair tours, in which she participated. Here’s my favorite song by Merchant, Kind and Generous. 

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