Born on this day in Jamestown, New York, singer/songwriter Natalie Anne Merchant (1963-) rose to fame in 1981 as the lead singer of the rock group 10,000 Maniacs.
Following their smash live album, MTV Unplugged (1993), Merchant went solo with what she called "a desire for change and need for growth."
The charismatic artist released Tigerlily (1996), which featured the hits Carnival, Wonder, and Jealousy. Merchant created another commercial success with Ophelia (1998), releasing an innovative video in which she portrayed the characters described in the lyrics of her songs.
Deeply passionate about her music, the former church choir member has said that she believed musicians have the power to inspire positive change. With a talent for writing intimate narratives, she attributed her thoughtfulness to the influences of Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, and Marvin Gaye.
"Dylan was single-handedly responsible for rousing the suspicions of my 19-year-old mind, Marvin opened the door to the ghetto and showed me the deprivation, the pain and the dignity living there, and Bob Marley, was third world poet, prophet, and mystic and the first voice I ever heard to rise up, to name and challenge his oppressors."
An advocate of human rights who strived to make her songwriting "lusher and more complex," Natalie has said that she enjoyed drawing, cooking, and gardening.
"I have this compulsive desire to create and am very attentive and perceptive... I take time every day to take a walk in the forest, regardless of the conditions."
Celebrate the sweetness.