It may not be common knowledge that singer songwriter Natalie Merchant is also an advocate for ending domestic violence.
She often tells the story of attending an event in 2013, and being struck by the dozen life-sized female figures made out of cardboard. Each one bore the name of a woman and the date she was murdered by an intimate partner.
“One of the victims had been a neighbor of mine but I had not been aware of her death,” Merchant was quoted as saying. “My blood chilled. How could I be a member of this community in good standing and not respond to this outrage?”
Merchant says this event inspired her to produce a short documentary, Shelter, which features women in New York living in a domestic violence shelter. The film also recognizes the work of police officers, prosecutors and local shelters in their fight to end domestic violence.
“I wanted to help them present to a larger audience this little understood and rarely discussed public health crisis in our region, in our world, that is domestic violence," said Merchant on her website.
“There were around 40 people, which was perfect for the space,” said Sheri Mintz, director of the Bright Future Foundation.
“I think it is so powerful when people know there are celebrities (artists, musicians, athletes, actors) that share our passion,” said Mintz. “I think it is very impactful.”
After her concert, Merchant greeted guests and signed copies of her documentary film. All of the proceeds benefitted the Bright Future Foundation, which is the only domestic violence shelter in the Vail Valley area.
“It goes to show how many people are impacted by DV and care about the work that we do,” said Mintz.
Bright Future Foundation also operates the Freedom Ranch Safehouse Project, a shelter for families fleeing abusive relationships in Eagle County. Freedom Ranch Safehouse also receives support from Verizon’s HopeLine. Mintz says the money raised from Merchant’s concert will help improve and repair parts of the shelter which are nearly 100 years old.
“It’s fantastic Natalie Merchant would do something like this,” said Mintz. “Not only did she agree to do the meet and greet, but she thanked everyone who has supported Bright Future Foundation and said ‘I look forward to meeting you after the show.’ Amazing!”
Support the organization hopes it will continue to receive from the community, Natalie Merchant, and her music.
“Natalie’s music talks about empowerment of people and women, so just to know she cares so deeply about domestic violence was so meaningful,” said Mintz. “I was struck by one of her lyrics, ‘she will make her way.’ I thought: that is what we do! We work with women in our shelter and give them the tools to make their way. That was powerful for me.”