Natalie Merchant Biography
Natalie Anne O'Shea Merchant (born October 26, 1963 in Jamestown, New York, USA) is a professional musician. She joined the rock band 10,000 Maniacs in 1981 and began her solo career in 1993.
Her paternal surname Merchant is of Sicilian origin and was originally Mercanto before being Americanized. The O'Sheas on her mother's side are of Irish extraction.
She is married and has a daughter.
Merchant was the lead singer of the band 10,000 Maniacs, joining in its infancy in 1981. She left the band in 1993 to pursue a successful solo career. Her debut solo album Tigerlily (1995) had three Top 40 singles in the U.S.: "Carnival", "Jealousy", and "Wonder". In 1997, she first performed "Planctus", a song for voice and piano written for her by Philip Glass. In 1998, Merchant released Ophelia, supported by co-headlining the concert tour Lilith Fair. The following year she released Live in Concert.
In 2001, Merchant released her album Motherland and went on an extensive tour of North America and Europe. She parted ways with Elektra Records in 2003 and released a folk album of traditional songs called The House Carpenter's Daughter in September of that year on Myth America Records, her own label. Merchant plays the piano, has produced and has written almost all of her songs.
Merchant has sung alongside Michael Stipe, David Byrne and Peter Gabriel. She has also collaborated with Billy Bragg a number of times, including the 1998 album Mermaid Avenue. Like Bragg, her work touches on social and political themes; she has been active in raising a number of campaigning issues in both her songs and through the causes to which she lends her name. She has been referred to as "the Poet Laureate of pop" and "the Emily Dickinson of pop".