|The Natalie Merchant Collection includes all eight of her solo studio albums from the past three decades. A ninth disc, Butterfly, is a new studio set featuring four new songs and six reinterpreted selections from her catalog, all arranged for string quartet. The final disc is Rarities, a collection of fifteen rare and previously unreleased tracks recorded between 1998 and 2017, which offers a unique view of Merchant’s creative experimentation through home studio demos, album outtakes, live tracks, and collaborations with diverse artists like Billy Bragg, David Byrne, The Chieftains, Cowboy Junkies, and Amy Helm. The package includes a 100-page lyric book and pictorial history of the singer-songwriter’s solo career—an archival treasure box for collectors.Q has called Natalie Merchant “among the most compelling and distinctive voices of the last decade,” while Vogue has said she is “one of the most successful and enduring alternative artists to emerge from the Eighties intact and uncompromised.” Her career began in 1981 when, as a college student, she joined the seminal alternative rock band 10,000 Maniacs, which signed to Elektra Records in 1984. As lead vocalist, lyricist, and sometimes pianist, Merchant released six critically acclaimed studio albums with the band, including the platinum-certified In My Tribe (1987), Blind Man’s Zoo (1989), Our Time in Eden (1992), and the multi-platinum MTV Unplugged (1993), which became the band’s most successful release as well as one of the best-selling in the Unplugged series. She left the group in 1993, and in 1995 released her multi-platinum solo debut, Tigerlily, followed by the platinum Ophelia (1998) and Motherland (2001). In 2003 she independently released an album of traditional and contemporary folk music, The House Carpenter’s Daughter (included in this collection), which also coincided with the birth of her child. For the next seven years she lived quietly in New York’s Hudson Valley devoting herself to family and community, while taking opportunities to collaborate with other musicians and strengthen her commitment to activism and philanthropy.
Merchant remains dedicated to a wide array of social justice and environmental causes. Recently, she spearheaded the making of the protest concert film Dear Governor Cuomo (2013) with New Yorkers Against Fracking, actors Mark Ruffalo and Melissa Leo, and filmmakers Jon Bowermaster and Alex Gibney, and she directed and produced SHELTER: A Concert Film to Benefit Victims of Domestic Violence(2014).
Elizabeth Lesser is the New York Times bestselling author of Broken Open and MARROW: A Love Story. She is the cofounder of Omega Institute, an organization recognized internationally for its workshops and conferences focusing on health and healing, psychology and spirituality, and creativity and social change. Prior to her work at Omega, she was a midwife and childbirth educator. She attended Barnard College and San Francisco State University, and lives in the Hudson River Valley with her family.