Natalie Merchant

After rising to fame at the helm of the popular folk-rock band 10,000 Maniacs, Natalie Merchant enjoyed even greater success as a solo artist during the mid-'90s. Her literate, socially conscious songs established her among the preeminent women in pop music, while her solo debut -- 1995's Tigerlily -- helped pave the way for a number of female performers in a pre-Lilith Fair market. She continued releasing albums well into the 2000s, often examining specific genres or subjects, although Tigerlily remained her biggest-selling record. Merchant has sung alongside Tracy Chapman, 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 promoting a number of campaigning issues in both her songs and through the causes to which she lends her name. In February 2014, Natalie Merchant announced her self-titled album, Natalie Merchant, slated for a May 6 release. For this recording project, Natalie has returned to her core band of musicians augmented by strings, brass and woodwinds to create sparse to lush arrangements. The album represents over a decade of songwriting that she describes as, "taking the measure of lives lived by surveying the damage:  love gained and lost, regret, denial, surrender, greed, destructiveness, defeat, and occasional triumph.”  The album will consist of entirely new works, her first collection of original material since 2001's Motherland.