Sunday, September 27, 2009

Natalie Merchant to Perform Live at the 1848 Shaker Meeting House

September 27, 2009
1:30 PM

Taking advantage of the unique acoustics of the historic 1848 Shaker Meeting House, Natalie Merchant will sing both new and familiar tunes. All proceeds from the concert will benefit the education and historic preservation activities of the Shaker Heritage Society. Natalie Merchant first visited the Watervliet Shaker historic site in 1999: "I've long had a strong interest in experimental communal societies in America , the Shakers being the most fascinating to me. Knowing that Mother Ann Lee's first settlement was in Colonie, I visited the historic site. I sang in the Meeting House and was astounded by the acoustics. Since then it has been a dream of mine to perform a concert in the sacred space. I discovered that the Shaker Heritage Society was in need of funds for renovation and events that raise the profile of the historic site and their work to preserve it. September 27th will be an opportunity for us to achieve all our ends."

The 1848 Meeting House was constructed for public performances of Shaker worship which included singing and dancing. This architectural and historical gem retains most of its original interior features including built in bleacher style seating for "spectators" who observed the worship service. The worship services were one way that the celibate religious community obtained new converts. Shakers wrote thousands of spiritual songs, leaving a significant legacy that influenced many artists including Aaron Copeland and John Williams who wrote the Shaker inspired Air and Simple Gifts for President Obama's inaguration ceremony.

Over her 28 year career Natalie Merchant has earned a place among America ’s most respected recording artists with a reputation for being a songwriter of quality and a captivating performer. She 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 (The Wishing Chair, In My Tribe, Blind Man's Zoo, Hope Chest, Our Time in Eden & MTV Unplugged). 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 after 18 years she left Elektra Records and independently released an album of traditional and contemporary folk music, The House Carpenter’s Daughter on her own label, Myth America Records. In 2005 she was persuaded to curate a collection of her own work for a double album she titled Retrospective and another for her former band, Campfire Songs.

In 2007 Merchant was appointed by the governor of New York to serve a five-year term as a member of the prestigious New York State Council on the Arts. For the past five years Merchant has been researching, writing and recording a collection of songs adapted from the works of various classic and contemporary poets. She is currently in the studio preparing this project, her first studio album in eight years due for release in the Fall of 2009.

Tickets go on sale on August 22 and can be purchased in person at the Shaker Heritage Society Tuesday-Saturday from 9:30am-4pm or by telephone at 518-456-7890. The Shaker Heritage Society and 1848 Meeting House is located directly across the street from the main entrance to Albany International Airport off of Heritage Lane. For more information call 518-456-7890 or visit