After rising to fame at the helm of the popular folk-rock band 10,000 Maniacs, Natalie Merchant enjoyed even greater success as a solo artist during the mid-'90s. 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 in a pre-Lilith Fair market. She continued releasing albums well into the 2000s, often examining specific genres or subjects, although Tigerlily remained her biggest-selling record.Read More
In My Tribe Born October 26, 1963, in Jamestown, New York, Merchant joined 10,000 Maniacs at the age of 17 and became the band's driving artistic force. After a pair of successful independent releases, they signed to Elektra in 1985 and briefly became one of the most popular acts in alternative rock, shooting into the Top 40 with 1987's In My Tribe and charting even higher with their follow-up effort, Blind Man's Zoo. Merchant's desire to launch a solo career increased alongside the band's growing reputation, however, and by the time the group sat down to record 1992's Our Time in Eden, she gave her bandmates two years' notice. Following the release of MTV Unplugged in 1994, she publicly announced she was leaving the group's ranks.
OpheliaMerchant made her solo debut with 1995's Tigerlily, a self-produced album that debuted at number 13 and scored a Top Ten single with "Carnival." Two additional singles, "Wonder" and "Jealousy," also cracked the Top 40, prompting Tigerlily to sell over five million copies in the U.S. alone. It was followed in 1998 by Ophelia, another platinum-selling effort that was supported by Merchant's inclusion in the second Lilith Fair tour. Live in Concert, recorded at New York's Neil Simon Theatre, appeared a year later. A prominent social activist, Merchant also drew notice by campaigning in the name of such hot-button issues as animal rights, domestic violence, and homelessness.