Keep Your Courage Tour An Evening with Natalie Merchant Natalie Merchant
Throughout her career, Natalie Merchant has earned a place among America’s most respected recording artists with a reputation for being a songwriter of quality and a captivating performer.
Merchant began her musical career as the lead vocalist and lyricist of the pop music band 10,000 Maniacs and released two platinum and four gold records with the group between 1981 and 1993 (The Wishing Chair, In My Tribe, Blind Man's Zoo, Hope Chest, Our Time in Eden & MTV Unplugged).
In 1994 Merchant began her solo career with a self-produced debut album, Tigerlily (1995) which astounded the music industry by selling 4 million copies. In the years following, she released Ophelia (1998), Natalie Merchant Live (1999) and Motherland (2001). In 2003 after 18 years she left Elektra Records and independently released an album of traditional and contemporary folk music, The House Carpenter’s Daughter on her own label, Myth America Records. In 2005 she was persuaded to curate a collection of her own work for a double album she titled Retrospective.
She has collaborated both on stage and in the studio with a wide range of artists: REM, Wynton Marsalis, The Chieftains, Mavis Staples, Daniel Lanois, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, David Byrne, Philip Glass, Billy Bragg, Wilco, Tracy Chapman, Cowboy Junkies, Ryan Adams, Lokua Kanza, Yungchen Lhamo, The Fairfield Four, Gavin Bryars, Jakob Dylan, Susan McKeown, Chris Botti, Lúnasa, The Klezmatics, Katell Keineg, Dan Zanes and Medeski, Martin & Wood.
Throughout her entire career Merchant has also been dedicated to supporting a wide array of non-profit organizations lending both financial support and raising public awareness. Scenic Hudson, The Center for Constitutional Rights, Riverkeeper, Doctors Without Borders, Greenpeace, The Association to Benefit Children, Planned Parenthood and The Southern Center for Human Rights are among the social justice groups to which she has been devoted. She was recently appointed by the governor of New York to serve a five-year term as a member of the prestigious New York State Council on the Arts.
After the birth of her daughter in 2003 Merchant took an extended break from recording and touring. For six years Merchant has been researching, writing and recording a collection of songs adapted from the works of various classic and contemporary poets. This project, entitled Leave Your Sleep, is her first studio album in seven years was released in April 2010 on Nonesuch Records. She released her sixth album, Natalie Merchant, in Spring 2014.
Nonesuch Records will release Natalie Merchant’s Keep Your Courage, her ninth solo studio album and first of new material since 2014’s self-titled record, on April 14, 2023. An eclectic album, produced by Merchant, it features two duets sung with vocalist Abena Koomson-Davis (Resistance Revival Chorus), contributions from the Celtic folk group Lúnasa and Syrian virtuoso clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, and horn arrangements by jazz trombonist Steve Davis. There are lush orchestrations throughout by seven composers including: Gabriel Kahane, Stephen Barber, Colin Jacobson, and Megan Gould. Keep Your Courage comprises nine original songs by Merchant as well as an interpretation of “Hunting the Wren” by Ian Lynch of the Irish band Lankum. The vinyl LP edition of Keep Your Courage includes four bonus tracks from earlier albums, previously unreleased on vinyl.
In celebration of the release, Merchant will embark upon a US tour this spring, including a stop in Cincinnati, OH for a performance at Taft Theatre on Sunday, May 14. Keep Your Courage is available to preorder here.
Merchant writes in her album’s liner notes, “The songs contained within this album were written and recorded during the global pandemic that began in the winter of 2019 and is in its fifth wave as I write, in the autumn of 2022. It has been, and continues to be, a period of great flux and fear on every level: global, national, communal, familial, personal. But this is not an album about the coronavirus or the chaos it caused. For the most part, this is an album about the human heart.” She continues. “The word ‘courage’ has its root in the Latin word for heart, cor, and we see it over and over in many languages: le coeur, il cuore, o coração, el corazón. This is a song cycle that maps the journey of a courageous heart.”
Over her forty-year career Natalie Merchant has attained a place among America’s most respected recording artists. She has earned a reputation for being a songwriter of quality and a captivating stage performer and has distinguished herself as a social justice and environmental activist. Merchant began her musical career as the lead vocalist and lyricist of the pop music band 10,000 Maniacs and released one platinum, two double-platinum, and one triple-platinum records with the group: The Wishing Chair (1985), In My Tribe (1987), Blind Man's Zoo (1989), Hope Chest (1990), Our Time in Eden (1992), and 10,000 Maniacs MTV Unplugged (1993). Merchant left the group in 1994 and has subsequently released nine albums as a solo artist with combined sales of seven million copies: Tigerlily (1995), Ophelia (1998), Natalie Merchant Live (1999), Motherland (2001), The House Carpenter’s Daughter (2003), Leave Your Sleep (2010), Natalie Merchant (2014), Paradise Is There (2015), and Butterfly (2017).
Merchant has collaborated with a wide range of artists, including Billy Bragg, Gavin Bryars, David Byrne, The Chieftains, Cowboy Junkies, Philip Glass, Kronos Quartet, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Mavis Staples, REM, and Wilco. She served on the New York State Council on the Arts from 2007–2011 at the appointment of Governor Elliot Spitzer and was recently appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center by New York State Senator and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Merchant’s awards include: The Library Lion Award from the New York Public Library (2011), The American Society of Authors Composers & Publishers (ASCAP) Champion Award, and The John Lennon Real Love Award. More information about Merchant’s career and philanthropic work may be found here.
“An artist with a singular voice and vision. Time has only amplified the power of Merchant’s music.”
“One of the most successful and enduring alternative artists to emerge from the eighties intact and uncompromised.”
* While supplies last. Tickets are subject to price increase based on demand, applicable taxes and Ticketmaster fees. All events rain or shine. Dates, times and artists subject to change without notice. Limit 8 tickets per person.