Natalie Anne Merchant (born October 26, 1963) is an American singer-songwriter and musician. She joined the alternative rock band 10,000 Maniacs in 1981 and left it to begin her solo career in 1993. Natalie Merchant was born October 26, 1963, in Jamestown, New York, the third of four children of Anthony and Ann Merchant. Her paternal grandfather, who played the accordion, mandolin and guitar, emigrated to the United States from Sicily; his surname was "Mercante" before it was Anglicized. Her maternal grandfather, a cartoonist, piano tuner and member of a barbershop quartet, was Irish. Her parents divorced when she was eight years old, and her mother later remarried. When Merchant was a child, her mother listened to music (The Beatles, Al Green, Aretha Franklin) and encouraged her children to study music, but she wouldn't allow TV after Natalie was 12. "I was taken to the symphony a lot because my mother loved classical music. But I was dragged to see Styx when I was 12.
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