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Natalie Merchant performs in Beaver Creek on Saturday

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Natalie Merchant was known as one of the original voices of alternative rock with her band 10,000 Maniacs. She has since had a successful and prolific solo career. She performs at the Vilar Performing Arts Center on April 4.
Special to the Weekly |

If you go ...

Who: Natalie Merchant.

Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek.

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Cost: Tickets start at $98.

More information: Call 970-845-8497 or visit http://www.vilarpac.org.

BEAVER CREEK — The Vilar Performing Arts Center welcomes singer-songwriter Natalie Merchant on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Over her 30-year career, she has earned a distinguished place among America’s most respected recording artists with a reputation for being a prolific songwriter with a compelling artistic vision and a unique and captivating performance style.

Her past hits include “Kind and Generous,” “Wonder,” “Jealousy” and “Carnival,” a Billboard Top 10 hit. Live performances of Merchant’s new music have been enthusiastically received by long-time fans and new audiences. She has collaborated both onstage and in the studio with a wide range of artists including Wynton Marsalis, The Chieftains, Mavis Staples, R.E.M., Tracy Chapman and Wilco.

On May 6, Nonesuch Records released her sixth solo album “Natalie Merchant.” This self-titled and self-produced collection of 10 new and original songs is her first offering in 13 years and has been ardently received by both fans and critics alike.

‘MOOD-INDUCING TEXTURES’

“It took years and years to get to this point. I have not had formal music training other than being a professional musician my whole life. That sounds like such a contradiction, but it’s true.”Natalie MerchantSinger-songwriter

With Merchant’s expanded work with orchestras around the world, she notes that this experience “has trained her ear as an arranger.” About her newest album, Merchant said, “The way I listen is so different than the way I did 20 or 30 years ago. There are so many mood-inducing textures available to me now — using an oboe, a bassoon, a clarinet or a cello is going to bring such a subtle emotional shift to a piece of music as opposed to just dealing with an electric band — bass, drums, guitar, maybe organ.

“I wanted to find a way to blend those two worlds on this record: all the years of making pop music with a standard electric band alongside this new world that is full of symphonic instruments. So when you hear a song like ‘Lulu,’ the woodwinds and strings really blend in beautifully with electric guitars and drums. And I have the courage now to do a song like ‘The End,’ which is just arranged for strings. It took years and years to get to this point. I have not had formal music training other than being a professional musician my whole life. That sounds like such a contradiction, but it’s true.”

ALTERNATIVE ROCK FORMAT

Merchant began her musical career as the lead vocalist and lyricist of the pop music band 10,000 Maniacs and released two platinum and four gold records with the group between 1981 and 1993. Together with artists like R.E.M., they defined college rock and created the first wave of alternative rock bands and what became known as the alternative rock format on FM radio.

In 1994, Merchant began her solo career with a self-produced debut album, “Tigerlily” (1995). In the years following, she released “Ophelia” (1998), “Natalie Merchant Live” (1999) and “Motherland” (2001). In 2003, Merchant independently released an album of American and British folk music, “The House Carpenter’s Daughter,” on her own label, Myth America Records. In 2005, she curated a collection of her own work for a double album, “Retrospective,” and another for her former band, “Campfire Songs.”

Tickets to Natalie Merchant start at $98 and are on sale now at the Vilar Performing Arts Center Box Office (970-845-8497/http://www.vilarpac.org).


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