The June 2 "Shelter Concert" at Bard College's Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., north of New York City, will benefit two Hudson Valley domestic violence shelters, Kingston's Washbourne House and Poughkeepsie's Grace Smith House, the event's website says.
Other performers will be singer Amy Helm, daughter of late rock singer-drummer Levon Helm of The Band; "mountain Motown" performer Simi Stone; children's music artist Elizabeth Mitchell and Tibetan-exile singer-songwriter Yungchen Lhamo, who sang duets with Merchant on the 1998 album "Ophelia."
Also performing with be the Bard Conservatory of Music's Kalmia String Quartet.
Merchant, who sang with alternative rock band 10,000 Maniacs before beginning her solo career in 1993, says she decided to do the benefit concert after seeing a One Billion Rising concert in Kingston Feb. 14.
That concert was part of a daylong event in 190 countries seeking to call attention to domestic violence. The "billion" refers to the call for a billion women around the world to join together in dance and also to the statistic that one in three women will be raped or beaten in their lifetime, or about 1 billion.
At the concert "I was confronted by a room full of lifesize cardboard figures, each with a sign that contained a woman's name, her age, hometown and the date she was murdered by her intimate partner. My heart stopped when I read the name of my town," Merchant said.
Merchant lives in a Hudson Valley town near the city of Kingston.
"In an instant I realized that the global issue of violence toward women was festering in my own neighborhood," she said.
"I decided to help connect these families in crisis with the members of our community who have the privilege of living in peace and security," she said.