Guest Artist Bio
Over Natalie Merchant's 30-year career, she has earned a distinguished place among America's most respected recording artists with a reputation for being a prolific songwriter with a compelling artistic vision and a unique and captivating performance style. With her latest and highly acclaimed Nonesuch recording entitled, Leave Your Sleep, which debuted on the Billboard Top 200 at No. 17, Natalie Merchant embarks on a new artistic path, creating songs from literary inspiration which are composed for expanded musical ensembles and orchestra.
Live performances of her new music have been enthusiastically received by her long-time fans and new audiences. Following her symphonic debut with the Boston Pops Orchestra, critics observed,
Merchant has found her medium. Yes, the singer-songwriter scored platinum sales with her pop band 10,000 Maniacs, and she forged a commendably searching solo career in the group's wake. But Merchant's woody quaver has never sounded quite so right as it did framed by flutes, a weaving clarinet, and a gentle harp. Keith Lockhart's orchestra was a full partner in the rich, handsome music. (The Boston Globe)
In conjunction with her next orchestral recording (release planned for spring 2012), Natalie Merchant will undertake an extensive touring project performing with symphony orchestras throughout the world.
Natalie Merchant began her musical career as the lead vocalist and lyricist of the pop music band 10,000 Maniacs and released two platinum and four gold records with the group between 1981 and 1993 (The Wishing Chair, In My Tribe, Blind Man's Zoo, Hope Chest, Our Time in Eden, and MTV Unplugged). Together with artists like R.E.M., they defined college rock and created the first wave of alternative rock bands and what became known as the alternative rock format on FM radio.
In 1994, Natalie Merchant began her solo career with a self-produced debut album, Tigerlily (1995). In the years following, she released Ophelia (1998), Natalie Merchant Live (1999) and Motherland (2001). In 2003, Merchant independently released an album of American and British folk music, The House Carpenter’s Daughter, on her own label, Myth America Records. In 2005, she curated a collection of her own work for a double album, Retrospective and another for her former band, Campfire Songs.
Natalie Merchant has collaborated both on stage and in the studio with a wide range of artists including Philip Glass, Wynton Marsalis, David Byrne, The Chieftains, Mavis Staples, REM, Daniel Lanois, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Tracy Chapman, Dan Zanes, Billy Bragg and Wilco. Throughout her career, Merchant has also been dedicated to supporting a variety of non-profit organizations by lending financial support and raising public awareness. Scenic Hudson, Riverkeeper, The Center for Constitutional Rights, Doctors Without Borders, Tibet House, Greenpeace, The Southern Center for Human Rights and Planned Parenthood are among the social justice groups to which she has been devoted. Merchant has also served as an appointed member of the prestigious New York State Council on the Arts (2007-2011).