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Concerts July 16 & 17: Marc Cohn & Natalie Merchant

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Marc Cohn with special guest Joan Osborne
Monday, July 16, 7 p.m. at York Street
Tickets still available!

Natalie Merchant with the Colorado Symphony
Tuesday, July 17, 7 p.m. at York Street
Sold Out!

Here are some entertaining pre-concert reviews, courtesy of Gardens' member Rick Hum. Be sure to read these while you are in line for the concerts so you'll know a little bit more about each of the artists.

Two quintessential New Yorkers, who have recently released albums of songs from a prior year, come to Denver.

Marc Craig Cohn was born on July 5, 1959 in Cleveland, Ohio. Orphaned as a youngster, he was barely out of infancy when his mother died; his father died ten years later, when Cohn was 12. He graduated from Beachwood High School (a Cleveland suburb) and attended Oberlin College and University of California at Los Angeles.

As a teenager in the 1970s Cohn was inspired by the plaintive voices of his generation, idolizing Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne and especially Paul Simon. Cohn learned to play guitar and started writing songs when he was in junior high school, playing and singing with a local band called Doanbrook Hotel. While attending Oberlin College in Ohio he taught himself to play the piano, then after transferring to UCLA he began to perform in the intimate venues in the area.

He moved to New York City in the 1980s to be near his fiancée. Working initially as a backup artist in recording sessions, he established a secure professional footing after assembling the Supreme Court, a 14-piece cover band. In 1989 Cohn was a backing pianist for singer Tracy Chapman on her Crossroads album.

Cohn released a self-titled solo album in 1991. Cohn was recognized with a Grammy as the Best New Artist of 1991. The album’s hit single was The album's hit single "Walking in Memphis."

Cohn has two children (Max and Emily) from his first marriage. Andre Agassi introduced him to Elizabeth Vargas in 1999. Cohn and Elizabeth Vargas have two boys, Zachary Raphael (b. 2003) and Samuel Wyatt (b. 2006).

On August 7, 2005, Cohn was shot in the head during an attempted carjacking in a downtown garage following a concert at Denver Botanic Gardens with Suzanne Vega. The bullet struck him in the temple but did not penetrate his skull. Cohn was hospitalized and released the next day. His remaining concerts on the tour were canceled. Cohn returned to the Gardens on 7/11/2008 to perform with Aimee Mann and on 8/11/2010 with Kathy Mattea.

In Listening Booth: 1970, Cohn transforms songs from many artists from that seminal year for him.

Joan Elizabeth Osborne was born on July 8, 1962. She was raised in Anchorage, KY, a suburb of Louisville. She moved to New York City in the late 1980s. She formed her own record label, Womanly Hips, before signing with Mercury Records.

Joan Osborne has sold millions of albums and garnered multiple Grammy nominations throughout her critically and commercially acclaimed career. In addition to her own headlining tours, she has sung lead vocals for The Dead and won a Grammy for her performance in the award-winning film Standing In The Shadows of Motown.

Osborne’s latest album, Bring It On Home, a collection of vintage R & B tunes, was released in March of this year. She has said, "I knew when the time was right and my voice was ready, I wanted to make a recording like this one."

Natalie Anne Merchant was born October 26, 1963 in Jamestown, New York, the third of four children of Anthony and Ann Merchant. Her paternal grandfather, who played the accordion, mandolin and guitar, emigrated to the United States from Sicily; his surname was "Mercante" before it was Anglicized. Her maternal grandfather, a cartoonist, piano tuner and member of a barbershop quartet, was Irish. Her parents divorced when she was eight years old, and her mother later remarried. Natalie Merchant married Daniel de la Calle in 2003 and they have a daughter, Lucia. Merchant has recently stated that she is divorced.

When Merchant was a child, her mother listened to music (The Beatles, Al Green, Aretha Franklin) and encouraged her children to study music. Merchant is quoted as saying, "I was taken to the symphony a lot because my mother loved classical music." She says, "I was dragged to see Styx when I was 12. We had to drive 100 miles to Buffalo. I remember Styx had a white piano, which rose out of the stage. It was awe-inspiring and inspirational."

A self-described "suicidal high school dropout," Merchant started working in a health food store at 16. She considered a career in special education after taking part in a handicapped children's summer program. But eventually in 1981, while a student at Jamestown Community College, she started singing for a band called Still Life, which was to become 10,000 Maniacs. Merchant was lead singer and primary lyricist for 10,000 Maniacs which recorded nine albums while she was with the group. Two of those albums went platinum and four gold.

Merchant started her solo career in 1994 and has recorded six albums since. Her last performance in Denver was in August 2010 at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. She was touring in support of her album Leave Your Sleep, an ambitious collection of 26 songs that sets poems from the 19th and 20th centuries to music.

In conjunction with her next orchestral recording (release is expected soon), Natalie Merchant is undertaking an extensive touring project performing with symphony orchestras throughout the world, including this stop in Denver with the Colorado Symphony.

Throughout her career, Merchant has been dedicated to supporting a wide array of non-profit organizations lending both financial support and raising public awareness. She was recently appointed by the governor of New York to serve a five-year term as a member of the prestigious New York State Council on the Arts.

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