Natalie Merchant (2010)

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For the O.B. Hardison Poetry Series 2010, Natalie Merchant and a trio of musicians performed selections from her new album, Leave Your Sleep, a collection of poems set to music, on April 30, 2010 at the Lutheran Church of Reformation.

Natalie Merchant

Natalie Merchant has sold millions of records worldwide first as the lead singer and primary lyricist for the folk-rock band 10,000 Maniacs (1981-1993) and later as a solo artist (1993-present). 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.

Leave Your Sleep, Merchant's first studio album since 2003’s The House Carpenter’s Daughter, is a collection of songs adapted from poems selected by Merchant including pieces by both well-known and obscure writers. Featured are works by British Victorians, early- and mid-20th century Americans, and contemporary writers, as well as anonymous nursery rhymes and lullabies. Among the authors included are Ogden Nash, e.e. cummings, Robert Louis Stevenson, Christina Rossetti, Edward Lear, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Robert Graves. According to Merchant, "The poems inspired vastly different musical settings with themes that ranged from humorous and absurd to tragic, romantic, and deeply spiritual."

Watch a video interview with Merchant about the creation of Leave Your Sleep, or visit her website.

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