Natalie Merchant is a singer and musician from New York, whose music has been praised for its lyrical, imagistic qualities – she incorporates the work of poets, both well-known and obscure, into her work. After a twelve-year spell with the band 10,000 Maniacs, Merchant launched her solo career – from which she has recently taken a long absence after the birth of her first child, a daughter.
Her album ‘Leave Your Sleep’ will be released by Nonesuch Records this spring (its title is taken from a Mother Goose rhyme). She calls it ‘the most elaborate project I have ever completed or even imagined’: it touches on Cajun music, bluegrass, reggae, chamber music, folk and jazz, as well as folk styles from around the world. She has also used the work of e. e. cummings, Robert Louis Stevenson, Edward Lear and Gerard Manley Hopkins.
When in London last month, Natalie gave an exclusive interview with Granta’s deputy editor Ellah Allfrey. Click below to watch her speak about her favourite poets, children’s ‘emergence into the world of language’ and their first glimpses of mortality.
Photograph by Justin Higuchi