Natalie Merchant has released the video for “Sister Tilly,” from her new album, Keep Your Courage. The track is dedicated to Joan Didion and pays homage to the generation of women who influenced Merchant in the 1960s and ’70s when she was growing up.
Merchant embarks on a European headlining tour next week, beginning in Berlin on October 31 and including her first shows in Italy since 2002. She also recently announced the rescheduled California leg of her tour for May and June 2024, including two additional nights in San Diego and Saratoga.
Of “Sister Tilly,” Merchant says: “This song holds a very dear place on the album. It celebrates the life of a woman I created to embody traits of several beloved female friends of mine who have passed away. These were all beloved mother, auntie, and sister figures that I owe so much for all the nurturing love and care they gave me throughout my life. You may recognize Tilly qualities in a cherished adopted or blood relative or friend who was part of that generation of women who came of age during the mid 1960s-mid 1970s. As happens with songs, ‘Sister Tilly’ has already grown to signify a generation of women-more than just one woman. When I have performed it live over the past six months, I can feel the song’s resonance with the audience. I can tell that I’m not the only one who feels an urgency to give these women their due respect. We owe them so much more.”
Earlier this year, Merchant joined host Hrishikesh Hirway on the Song Exploder podcast to talk about “Sister Tilly,” breaking down the Gabriel Kahane-arranged song.
On January 28, 2024, Merchant will host a new workshop, entitled Sotto il lume delle stelle (Under the light of the stars), at Fondazione Prada’s Accademia dei bambini in Milan. The workshop for children will be led by Merchant and will feature a concert performance of new songs adapted by her from poems by Italian writer and educator Lina Schwarz (1876-1947). Full details will be announced shortly at fondazioneprada.org.
Keep Your Courage, released earlier this year on Nonesuch Records, is Natalie Merchant’s ninth solo studio album and the first of new material since her 2014 self-titled record. An eclectic album, produced by Merchant, it features lush orchestrations throughout, two duets sung with vocalist Abena Koomson-Davis of Resistance Revival Chorus, contributions from the Celtic folk group Lúnasa and Syrian virtuoso clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, and horn arrangements by jazz trombonist Steve Davis. There are nine original songs by Merchant and an interpretation of a song by Ian Lynch of the Irish band Lankum. The vinyl LP edition includes four bonus tracks from earlier albums, previously unreleased on vinyl. You can get it and hear it here.
NATALIE MERCHANT ON TOUR:
Oct 31 Theater des Westens Berlin, GERMANY
Nov 2 London Palladium London, UK
Nov 3 London Palladium London, UK
Nov 5 Glasgow Royal Concert Hall Glasgow, UK
Nov 6 O2 Apollo Manchester Manchester, UK
Nov 8 Olympia (Sold Out) Dublin, IRELAND
Nov 9 Olympia (Sold Out) Dublin, IRELAND
Nov 11 The Forum (Sold Out) Bath, UK
Nov 13 Carré Theatre (Sold Out) Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS
Nov 14 Cirque Royal (Sold Out) Brussels, BELGIUM
Nov 17 Teatro Dal Verme Milan, ITALY
Nov 14 Palasport San Bernardino Chiari, ITALY
May 25 Humphrey’s (Rescheduled; Sold Out) San Diego, CA
May 26 Humphrey’s (Just Added) San Diego, CA
May 28 Mountain Winery Amphitheater (Just Added) Saratoga, CA
May 29 Mountain Winery Amphitheater (Rescheduled) Saratoga, CA
May 30 The Masonic (Rescheduled) San Francisco, CA
Jun 1 Walt Disney Concert Hall Los Angeles, CA.