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26 October 1963, Jamestown, New York, USA. Having originally sung in a church choir, Merchant joined the highly regarded 10, 000 Maniacs in 1981 while studying at Jamestown Community College in New York. She would eventually leave that band over a decade later in 1992, three years before she made her solo bow. Merchant self-evidently relished the control afforded her by this enterprise, writing all the lyrics and music for her debut album, Tigerlily, which she also produced. She had made her intentions to leave known to her former band as early as 1990, but only jumped ship after their label, Elektra Records, offered her a solo contract. When she took it up they promptly dropped 10, 000 Maniacs. Her reflections on her time in the band were revisited on Tigerlilys I May Know The Word, which amplified some of the frustration she felt in the later stages of their career (though the break-up was generally amicable). However, she still felt the need to...