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.
"A suicidal high school dropout", Merchant started working in a health food store at 16. She considered a career in special education following her taking part in a handicapped children's summer program. But eventually in 1981 she started singing for a band called Still Life, which was to become 10,000 Maniacs.
Place to yap aboot moosic.
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