Sarah McLachlan, Canadian Singer-Songwriter 

Date

Spring 2024

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Singer and songwriter with an extensive record of nostalgic unsparing albums.

Sarah McLachlan might not be as popular as Celine Dion, but the Canadian singer is a role model for mystical young Canadian women, thanks to her amazing song lyrics and philanthropic efforts. 

Her Lilith Fair tour, a travelling concert tour comprised of female solo artists and bands received local and international attention in the 1990s, and raised over $10 million for charity in its first three years. The successful all-female concert tour that began in the late 90s transformed McLachlan into a rising star, casting her as a staunch advocate of modern feminism.

McLachlan managed to leave an indelible mark on the music industry; her 1997 album Surfacing catapulted her into the success arena, winning several awards. At the 1998 Juno Awards, McLachlan won four awards as the best female vocalist, songwriter of the year, best album, and best single of the year.

The accomplished singer and songwriter has a gorgeously ethereal and versatile voice; it is not surprising that many of her songs and albums remain in the top charts. When it was first released, her album Surfacing remained in Billboard’s top 10 for several weeks.

Music as Solace 

As she has always done, McLachlan confides in the power of music and lyrics to express her feelings. For example, her 2010 album Laws of Illusion mourned the demise of her decades-long marriage. Her fifth album Afterglow, released in 2003, saw her grappling with life’s complexities and relationships. Songs like World on Fire alluded to 9/11, and Stupid ranted about a romance going painfully wrong.

Born and raised in Nova Scotia, McLachlan’s parents were a scientist and homemaker. She landed her first record deal when she was only 19, with her 1994 album Fumbling Towards Ecstasy garnering local and international attention. 

Now older and wiser, McLachlan isn’t resting on her laurels. In 2002 McLachlan established the Sarah McLachlan Foundation, which funds the Sarah McLachlan School of Music. The school provides free music education and mentorship to children and youth facing barriers to access. 

Because of her philanthropic efforts, McLachlan received several awards, including the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Visionary Award for furthering women’s careers in music and the Governor General’s Award for Performing Arts.

New Ventures

After a long hiatus, McLachlan reinvented herself, and emerged with a new album, Shine On, released in 2014. In that same year, she also signed a contract with Verve Records, who helped launch her album Shine On. With over 40 million albums to her name, McLachlan won three GRAMMY Awards and received 14 nominations. In 2017 McLachlan was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

Collaborating with Verve Records saw her revamping her management and team, rekindling her creativity and passion for music. At 55, McLachlan is kicking off several tours this year, which include many concerts across Canada. 

Even though the pandemic hampered her efforts in hosting live concerts, the Canadian singer admitted that she perfected her sourdough bread recipe, and found time to fine-tune her painting and drawing hobbies. With all the confinement, the singer confessed to being overwhelmed by the notion of writing lyrics and songs during the pandemic. Eventually, she managed to focus on her songwriting and used the material she worked on to start recording new songs.

Last year McLachlan kicked off Ottawa’s biggest summer music festival Bluesfest. This year she will head the 31st annual Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival from August 17 to 20 at the Salmon Arm Fairgrounds in British Columbia.

From an early age, music gave McLachlan the tools she needed to navigate life’s challenges. After all, many fans can relate to life’s tragedies in painfully nostalgic songs which showcase McLachlan’s crisp, ethereal vocals. 

Today she is more determined than ever to provide opportunities to disadvantaged children through philanthropic efforts like the Sarah McLachlan School of Music, which gives children a chance to fulfill the very dreams she once had. 

David Messiha | Staff Writer 

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