Natalie Merchant

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Updated On February 18, 2022
Jamestown, New York
Birth Sign
Jamestown, New York

Natalie Merchant is an alternative rock singer and songwriter whose debut album, ‘Tigerlily,’ catapulted her to fame. She has been praised for her creativity and extremely emotional lyrics, making her one of the most accomplished musicians of our time. Many of her songs are protests for women’s rights, asserting their status quo and denouncing the abuses they face. Others, particularly from the album ‘Motherland,’ are dedicated to the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Childhood and innocence are two other themes in her songs, which she wrote in response to 19th and 20th century British and American poems on childhood. She is now regarded as one of the most versatile and inventive artists in the American music industry, with critical acclaim. Her career, which began in the late 1990s, is highlighted by some songs she wrote for the band ‘10,000 Maniacs,’ as well as several solo songs after the band disbanded. Almost all of her albums have received positive reviews, though she has yet to win any awards. She has, however, collaborated with some of today’s greatest singers to produce some of her tracks. They’ve also accompanied her on a number of tours and stage appearances. Merchant is also known for her philanthropic work and social activism. In the biography below, you can learn more about her life and career.

Childhood and Adolescence

Natalie Merchant is the youngest of three siblings born to Anthony and Ann Merchant. She has two older and one younger brother and sister. When she was eight years old, her parents divorced.

She stayed with her mother, a music lover who encouraged her children to learn music and discouraged them from watching television. She grew up studying classical music and dropped out of high school at the age of sixteen to work in a health food store.

She attended Jamestown Community College and, in 1981, became a member of the alternative rock band ‘Still Life,’ which later became known as ‘10,000 Maniacs.’

Career of Natalie

She sang for the album ‘Human Conflict Number Five’ as the lead singer and songwriter for ‘10,000 Maniacs.’ She was a member of the band until 1993, and she sang lead vocals on seven studio albums during that time.

Her debut album, ‘Tigerlily,’ was released in 1995, and the song ‘Beloved Wife’ was featured in the film ‘Message in a Bottle.’

Following the success of her album, she gathered a group of young musicians to form her band, but they were unable to stay together for long, and the group eventually disbanded.

Her second album, ‘Ophelia,’ was released in 1998 and was inspired by the problems that women have faced since the dawn of time. The album’s most well-known song is ‘Kind and Generous,’ which was frequently broadcast on VH1 radio.

In the same year, she recorded ‘But Not for Me,’ a song written by legendary singer George Gershwin, for the Red Hot Organization, a charitable organization.

She went on a folk tour with the country music band ‘Wilco’ in the United States in 2000. Her third album, ‘Motherland,’ was released in 2001 in collaboration with Elektra Records. The album was a huge success, reaching number one on the Billboard 200 and being named one of the Top Internet Albums of 2001.

Merchant went on a world tour for a year and a half to promote her album, and in 2002 she teamed up with rock musician Chris Isaak to perform at various locations.

After her contract with Elektra expired in 2002, she founded ‘Myth America Records’ and released her next album, ‘The House Carpenter’s Daughter,’ in 2003.

She signed a deal with Nonesuch Records in 2009, and her fifth solo album, ‘Leave Your Sleep,’ was released on April 13, 2010.

In 2011, she contributed the song “Learning the Game” to the tribute album “Listen to Me: Buddy Holly” in honor of Buddy Holly, a rock and roll pioneer.

Merchant’s debut solo album, Major Works’ Tigerlily, shot her to fame almost immediately, reaching number 13 on the Billboard Top 200 and selling over 5 million copies. It is this singer’s most successful album to date.

The album ‘Ophelia’ was also a hit, with the single ‘Kind & Generous’ reaching the Top 10 on the Billboard 200 chart.

Her third solo album, ‘Motherland,’ charted at no. 30 on the Billboard 200, and her fifth solo album, ‘Leave Your Sleep,’ charted at no. 1 on the Billboard Top Folk Albums.

Achievements & Awards

Her first solo album, ‘Tigerlily,’ was a huge hit and was certified five times platinum. Her second solo album, ‘Ophelia,’ received a platinum certification, while her third solo album, ‘Motherland,’ received a gold certification in the United States.

Personal History and Legacy

Merchant married Daniel de la Calle in 2003 and they have a daughter together. In an interview in 2012, she confirmed her divorce.

She is a vegetarian who enjoys painting on occasion. Her official website has a gallery of her work. She enjoys gardening as well and prefers to live in the “countryside rather than the city.”

Estimated Net Worth

Natalie Merchant is one of the wealthiest rock singers and one of the most popular. Natalie Merchant’s net worth is estimated to be $5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.


After her execution, serial killer Aileen Wuornos requested that the song ‘Carnival’ from this famous musician’s album ‘Tigerlily’ be played at her wake.