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Natalie Merchant

The Janitor's Boy

Natalie Merchant in-studio, 3-25-10.

Recording engineer: Steven Kray, with technical assistance from Bill Ward and Randy Layton.

Video: Greg Bond, Rick Hines, and Nick Fisher.

Natalie Merchant was in Portland not for a concert appearance, but to perform at the Public Library Association’s national conference in Portland. That’s fitting, since Merchant’s new record is a collection of poems — by Robert Louis Stevenson, E.E. Cummings, Gerard Manley Hopkins and others — she set to music. The number of musicians who played on the record topped 100, including Wynton Marsalis, Medeski Martin and Wood, the Irish band Lunasa, chamber orchestras, The Klezmatics, The Ditty Bops, and The Fairfield Four. Merchant says this project made a dream come true for her.

In our session, she plays songs featured on the new record, and talks not only about the ambitious project and what inspired it, but also highlights of her 30-year career in music, 10,000 Maniacs, her solo career, and playing shows for kids.

Photos: Inger Klekacz.



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