Annual Celebration of John Lennon’s Legacy to Honor Singer-Songwriter-Activist Natalie Merchant
BY LARRY MCSHANE / AUGUST 5, 2019
Singer-songwriter Natalie Merchant, born just four months before the Beatles played “The Ed Sullivan Show,” found herself more smitten by John Lennon’s post-Fab Four collaborations with Yoko Ono.
“John and Yoko’s activism had a profound impact upon me as a child,” said Merchant, named the recipient of this year’s “John Lennon Real Love Award.”
“Through their ingenious war protests, they challenged the entire world to reflect upon itself," the Jamestown, N.Y., native continued. “In my estimation, ‘Imagine’ remains the most powerful three minutes and eight seconds of music ever recorded."
Merchant will appear at the 39th annual John Lennon Tribute event set for Dec. 6 at Symphony Space NYC, performing a set of her favorite songs by Lennon solo and with the Beatles. Past winners of the award include Patti Smith, Rosanne Cash and Donovan.
Tickets go on sale Tuesday at LennonTribute.org or by phone at 212-864-5400 for the event, with proceeds going to fund Theatre Within’s programs at Gilda’s Club NYC to help cancer patients.
Merchant is a longtime activist on a variety of social and environmental issues. She performed “Imagine” last year at an upstate event to boost progressive political candidates and encourage young voters to turn out at the polls.
“With her beautiful songs, social activism and and support of charitable causes, Natalie Merchant has certainly brightened our world and our hearts,” said Ono. “Natalie’s outspokenness on the environment, domestic violence and special-needs children shines light on these vitally important issues.”
Other performers are expected to join the bill, with past guests including Jackson Browne and Joan Osborne. And Merchant is thrilled to be part of the event.
“John and Yoko realized that popular art and celebrity could be used to push society closer toward equality and compassion,” said Merchant. “I’ve tried to follow their example throughout my life, as an artist and citizen.”