Natalie Merchant with Cincinnati Pops

June 9 • Riverbend Music Center

In 2010, Natalie Merchant made a lovely two-disc album called Leave Your Sleep, inspired by the way raising her young daughter had given Merchant insight into the mysteries and complexities — the sweetness and the anxieties — of childhood. She wrote songs adapted from the words of 19th and 20th Century British and American poets whose children-related verse struck her as powerful. Beautifully and subtly orchestrated to have both a Classical presence yet be rooted in Folk-music tradition, and sung with her trademark regret-tinged resonant wistfulness, it wasn’t a children’s album so much as the work of a creative adult who chose to make childhood her subject.

For someone who has been around as long as Merchant — who had several top-selling alternative-rock albums in the late-1980s and 1990s with 10,000 Maniacs and then as a solo artist — it showed real vision and growth. Not all the poets whose work she adapted are household names, although she did use e.e. cummings (“Maggie and Milly and Molly and May”), Edward Lear (“Calico Pie”) and Ogden Nash (“Adventures of Isabel”).

Merchant has been performing the material with symphony orchestras, and the Cincinnati Pops, to the credit of Conductor John Morris Russell, decided to show some vision and growth of its own by beginning its Riverbend summer series with her. For tickets and more information, visit

NATALIE MERCHANT plays Saturday, June 9 at the Riverbend Music Center with the Cincinnati Pops. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here .

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