Natalie Merchant, born in 1963 in Jamestown, NY, and former lead singer of the 10,000 Maniacs, shared her music at Oakland’s Fox Theater. She sang songs from her latest album, “Leave Your Sleep”. This album is a unique compilation of five years of inspiration and "conversation" with her daughter, Lucia, over the first 6 years of Lucia’s life. The lyrics are taken from children’s poetry that has often been forgotten but now has found new life by taking the words and combining it with music and her unique and sultry voice.
During the concert photos of the different poets were projected on a screen and Natalie shared the background and history of the poet along with her own perceptions of the poets creative life. She would then sing and dance to the rhythm of the words which were now magically combined into song.
This was a unique concert, blending music, poetry, history, and dance. For me, the combination worked and I was captivated by how she had taken words placed on paper 100 years ago and made it come alive and be magically in our current era. Music today is often ballads or poetry placed into pop music or woven into the beat of rap. Natalie successfully blended a part of our past she had discovered through her motherhood experience and made it available by sharing it with the rest of us. I enjoyed receiving this lovely blend of poetry and music. It was like witnessing a new and distinct flower in bloom from a plant that was hidden away and long forgotten. It was a lovely evening.
Here is a video of her sharing her music, poetry, along with unique costumes at a TED conference in April 2010.