Natalie Merchant, the once singer-songwriter for the 10,000 Maniacs, who eventually went out on her own as a great success, has now come out with her next album – “Leave Your Sleep”. Nonesuch Records stated the album was released worldwide April 13. Promoting the album, Merchant is performing a series of release parties and concerts in several major American cities.
Natalie Merchant was born in Jamestown, New York. Her mother encouraged her to study music and wouldn’t allow her four children, including Natalie, to watch TV until they were 12. Merchant said they were taken to the symphony often, as her mother loved classical music. Merchant admits she didn’t know much about any other type of music beyond classical and show-tunes, music her mother loved.
In 1981, Merchant started singing for a band called “Still Life”, which later changed their name to “10,000 Maniacs”. In 1993 she left the group to go out on her own. By 1995 she released her album “Tigerlily” which contained the famous single called “I May Know The Word”. The song was to appear on the soundtrack for the movie Philadelphia but was later cut. “Beloved Wife”, another song off of “Tigerlily” was featured in the trailer for the movie Message in a Bottle. The album also contained the song “River”, dedicated to River Phoenix, whom she defend and castigates the media for sensationalizing his death. Tigerlily was a success and pushed her single “Carnival” into the top 40 of singles. The album sold over 5 million copies.
After three years, Merchant released her second album “Ophelia”. This album would contain a lot of symphonic arrangements composed and conducted by British composer Gavin Bryars. Thirty different musicians were featured on the album. The album was meant to describe a series of women throughout time, who dared to question the patriarchal status quo and were often castigated. Merchant described “Ophelia” as being at once a “novice Carmelite”, a “suffragette”, a “circus queen,” a “demigoddess” and a “mafia courtesan.” The first single of the album “Kind and Generous” received massive airplay on VH1. Merchant also joined Sarah McLachlan performing in Lilith Fair, which helped push her album into Platinum status in under a year. Singles “Break Your Heart” and “Life Is Sweet” received only moderate airplay. Merchant made appearances on VH1, PBS and Hard Rock Live that year as well.
Merchant’s third album would be “Motherland”, released in 2001. The album achieved Gold on the Billboard charts with singles “Just Can’t Last, “Build A Levee” and “Tell Yourself”.
After “Motherland”, Merchant did not resign with her record company but released her next album “The House Carpenter’s Daughter” under her own label, Myth America Records. This was in 2003. Merchant later decided to resign with Nonesuch Records and now, in 2010, we see her album “Leave Your Sleep” being released. Financial Times claims “the album is a double album of poems set to music the traverses the whole range of American vernacular, from Bluegrass to Cajon to miniature chamber music, and beyond.?