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An Evening with Natalie Merchant: Keep Your Courage Tour

June 29 | 8:00 pm

credit: Shervin Lainez

A Schaefer Spotlight Series Event

Series Sponsorship provided by Bonnie and Jamie Schaefer.
Supporting Sponsorship provided by Broyhill Family Foundation, The Campus Store, Explore Boone, Mast General Store, Goodnight Brothers, SkyBest Communications, Inc., and Appalachian Home Care LLC.

An Evening with Natalie Merchant: Keep Your Courage Tour

with live accompaniment by


“An artist with a singular voice and vision. Time has only amplified the power of Merchant’s music.” —Mojo
“One of the most successful and enduring alternative artists to emerge from the eighties intact and uncompromised.” —Vogue
In celebration of her ninth studio album, Keep Your Courage, ’80s superstar singer-songwriter Natalie Merchant comes to Boone, accompanied by Hickory, NC’s Western Piedmont Symphony.
Merchant writes in her album’s liner notes, “The songs contained within this album were written and recorded during the global pandemic that began in the winter of 2019 and is in its fifth wave as I write, in the autumn of 2022. It has been, and continues to be, a period of great flux and fear on every level: global, national, communal, familial, personal. But this is not an album about the coronavirus or the chaos it caused. For the most part, this is an album about the human heart.” She continues. “The word ‘courage’ has its root in the Latin word for heart, cor, and we see it over and over in many languages: le coeur, il cuore, o coração, el corazón. This is a song cycle that maps the journey of a courageous heart.”

LOCATION: Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts, 733 Rivers St., Boone, NC 28608

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact the Box Office at theschaefercenter@appstate.edu or call 800-841-2787 or 828-262-4046.



Tier 1: $75
Tier 2: $65
Tier 3: $55
Students (limited availability): $25

Saturday, June 29, 2024 | 8pm
Doors open at 7pm


Over her 40-year career Natalie Merchant has attained a place among America’s most respected recording artists. She has earned a reputation for being a songwriter of quality and a captivating stage performer and has distinguished herself as a social justice and environmental activist. Merchant began her musical career as the lead vocalist and lyricist of the pop music band 10,000 Maniacs and released one platinum, two double-platinum, and one triple-platinum records with the group: The Wishing Chair (1985), In My Tribe (1987), Blind Man’s Zoo (1989), Hope Chest (1990), Our Time in Eden (1992), and 10,000 Maniacs MTV Unplugged (1993). Merchant left the group in 1994 and has subsequently released nine albums as a solo artist with combined sales of seven million copies: Tigerlily (1995), Ophelia (1998), Natalie Merchant Live (1999), Motherland (2001), The House Carpenter’s Daughter (2003), Leave Your Sleep (2010), Natalie Merchant (2014), Paradise Is There (2015), and Butterfly (2017).

Merchant has collaborated with a wide range of artists, including Billy Bragg, Gavin Bryars, David Byrne, The Chieftains, Cowboy Junkies, Philip Glass, Kronos Quartet, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Mavis Staples, REM, and Wilco. She served on the New York State Council on the Arts from 2007–2011 at the appointment of Governor Elliot Spitzer and was recently appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Library of Congress’ American Folklife Center by New York State Senator and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Merchant’s awards include: The Library Lion Award from the New York Public Library (2011), The American Society of Authors Composers & Publishers (ASCAP) Champion Award, and The John Lennon Real Love Award. More information about Merchant’s career and philanthropic work may be found here

credit: Shervin Lainez


On her beguiling ninth studio album, Keep Your Courage, Natalie Merchant examines love in all its guises. While the award-winning and multi-platinum-selling singer-songwriter has hardly eschewed love songs in the past, she has never been this immersed in them. By Merchant’s count she mentions love twenty-six times across Keep Your Courage. “I think the pandemic was a great period of solitude and longing,” she says by way of one possible explanation for her fixation on matters of the heart. “I craved and savored human connection; it was the only thing that really mattered.”

Keep Your Courage is a sonically disparate and musically sumptuous collection produced by Merchant and recorded in Vermont with trusted collaborators and new friends. Whether it’s delicate chamber pop (“The Feast of Saint Valentine”), horn-driven soul (“Tower of Babel”), Celtic balladry (“Eye of the Storm”), or instantly infectious pop (“Come on, Aphrodite”), the album is anchored by Merchant’s unmistakable voice, whip-smart wordplay, and emotional delivery.

Though this is her first album of all new, original material in nine years, Merchant has been anything but idle in that time. In addition to raising her daughter, the singer-songwriter has tackled several projects in the last decade, among them: rearranging her songs for string quintet and acoustic instruments for the CD and documentary Paradise Is There, directing Shelter, a documentary on domestic violence, curating the 10-disc box set The Natalie Merchant Collection, and somehow, for two years, finding time four days a week to work with children as an artist-in-residence with a local non-profit preschool. She explains, “I felt like it was part of my job as a mother to be an example of someone who’s engaged in the community.” In November 2022, Merchant was appointed to a six-year term on the board of trustees for the American Folklife Center at The Library of Congress by Senate majority leader Charles Schumer.


Western Piedmont Symphony (WPS) is the professional orchestra of the western foothills of North Carolina, based in Hickory. For 59 years, WPS has enriched and engaged the communities of western North Carolina through high-quality symphonic music with creative, relevant performances, and educational opportunities for all ages. Each season, the Symphony presents an inspiring classical Masterworks series, a fun and entertaining Foothills Pops series, a variety of small music ensembles in the Crossroads series, family-friendly Discovery Family Concerts, plus education and community engagement programs in the Catawba Valley, all under the artistic direction of Maestro Matthew Troy. Experience the power of live music in concert with WPS.

Western Piedmont Symphony is supported by the North Carolina Arts Council and is a funded affiliate of the United Arts Council of Catawba County. WPS is a proud member of the League of American Orchestras.

credit: Tom Devlin Photography

ACCOMMODATION STATEMENT: Appalachian is committed to providing an inclusive experience for individuals with disabilities. If accommodations are needed in order to fully participate on the basis of a disability, contact the Office of Disability Resources (828.262.3056). It is recommended that accommodation requests be made two weeks prior to the event.


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June 29
8:00 pm
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