Natalie Merchant - Performer
BMHOF Class of 2013
Hailing from Jamestown, New York, Natalie Merchant has had a successful career in the music business for over 30 years earning her a place among America’s most respected recording artists, songwriters, and performers.
Ms. Merchant began her musical career singing for a band, “Still Life”, that became “10,000 Maniacs” (BMHOF Class of 1994). As the lead vocalist for the pop music band “10,000 Maniacs” two platinum and four gold records were released with the group between 1981 and 1993. The 10,000 Maniacs, under the vocal leadership of Natalie Merchant, helped define college rock and created the first wave of alternative rock bands, which collectively became known as the alternative rock format on FM radio.
In 1994, Merchant began her solo career with a self-produced debut album, Tigerlily. It contained three pop hits, “Carnival” (#10), “Wonder” (#20), and “Jealousy” (#23). Natalie’s sophomore effort, Ophelia, released in 1998, produced “Kind & Generous”, the most successful single off of the album, which reached the Top 10 in the U.S. Merchant released Natalie Merchant Live in 1999, and her third independent album Motherland followed in 2001. It was her last mainstream record to be released via her label Elektra Records. The album is dedicated to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks upon the United States. Although the recording was finished two days before the event, the songs are not influenced by it.
In August of 2003, Natalie Merchant released an acoustic album, The House Carpenter’s Daughter, via her website and on September 16, 2003 in stores. It consists of both traditional songs and cover versions of contemporary folk music. It was produced by Merchant and released on her independent label, Myth America Records. Her fifth solo album, Leave Your Sleep, is a concept album which is “a project about childhood” and is a collection of music adapted from 19th and 20th century British and American poetry about childhood.
Aside from her solo projects, Natalie Merchant has collaborated in the studio and on stage with a wide array of performers including Billy Bragg, David Byrne, Tracy Chapman, The Chieftains, Philip Glass, Daniel Lanois, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Wynton Marsalis, REM, Mavis Staples, Wilco and Dan Zanes.
Throughout her career, Natalie Merchant has been dedicated to supporting a variety of non-profit organizations including Riverkeeper, The Center for Constitutional Rights, Scenic Hudson, Doctors Without Borders, Tibet House, Greenpeace, The Southern Center for Human Rights and Planned Parenthood by raising public awareness and lending financial support. She returned to her hometown in 1998 for a special appearance with 300 children at the Jamestown Boys and Girls Club. That same year she donated a $30,000 to the “Way To Go” program at the club and another $15,000 each to YMCA and the YWCA.
Ms. Merchant’s contributions to the music industry and the community at large have influenced and helped many. The Buffalo Music Hall of Fame is proud to have inducted Natalie Merchant as a solo artist with its Class of 2013.
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