Grew up in Jamestown, NY, which is also the birthplace of Lucille Ball.
Volunteered at a summer camp for children with disabilities when she was 15.
Left high school early, at age 16, to work in a health-food store and take classes at Jamestown Community College. Became a vegetarian the same year.
Joined Still Life, a precursor of 10,000 Maniacs, at age 17 after meeting several of its members through the Jamestown Community College's radio station.
Gained a British following with 10,000 Maniacs in 1983 after influential British DJ John Peel began playing "My Mother the War" on his radio show.
With 10,000 Maniacs, broke through to popular acclaim in the U.S. in 1987 with the album In My Tribe, which sold more than two million copies.
Involved in social activism, working on behalf of such causes as animal rights and homelessness. Has put her time where her mouth is, too: She volunteered at a Harlem homeless shelter for six months after 10,000 Maniacs' Blind Man's Zoo album (1989).
In 1995, released her solo debut album, Tigerlily, which sold more than five million copies in the U.S.
Became friends with poet Allen Ginsberg (1926-97) after referencing him in 10,000 Maniacs' "Hey, Jack Kerouac"; and performed Ophelia's "King of May," which she had written for him, at his memorial service.
Volunteered at her daughter's school teaching the children about folk music.
Enjoys painting and gardening.
Christopher Anthony Merchant — Brother
Anthony Merchant — Father
Anne Meyer Merchant — Mother
Lucia — Daughter
Daniel de la Calle — Husband
Bernadette Merchant — Sister
Jude Merchant — Brother
Michael Stipe — Ex-significant Other
Attended State University of New York, Jamestown, New York, United States