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Natalie Merchant

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Natalie Merchant
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By 1992, 10,000 Maniacs had been with the Elektra family for some eight years, and had recorded four highly successful albums for the label (preceded by two indie releases). Vocalist/songwriter Natalie Merchant, who had co-founded the band when she was 17, was about to turn 30, and she decided the time had come to set off on her own. Although the band enjoyed their greatest sales success with 1993’s triple-platinum MTV Unplugged, Merchant had already announced she was leaving the group. Two years later, Merchant re-emerged with her acclaimed solo debut. She was carrying on a long Elektra tradition of independent, socially conscious, boundary-defying women whose folk-based music inspired their own and subsequent generations – among them Judy Collins, Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, and Tracy Chapman. Tigerlily was an artistic triumph and a commercial smash, surpassing 10,000 Maniacs on the sales front and certified 5-times platinum. The album, whose first single was “Carnival,” was entirely written and produced by Merchant, a clear break from her band identity that found one of modern music’s most distinctive voices expressing a need to “project further,” as she said at the time. Tigerlily was followed in 1998 by Ophelia, which coincided with her participation in the second Lilith Fair tour. Upon the album’s release, Merchant noted that “I have fifty-six minutes every four years, and I want to say something honest to people.” She released a live album in 1999, and concluded her Elektra contract with 2001’s Motherland. Merchant returned to the indie label world with the 2003 release of The House Carpenter’s Daughter on her own Myth America label, and rejoined the Warner Music Group family in 2010 with the release of her first album for Nonesuch, Leave Your Sleep.
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