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Loreena McKennitt

Loreena McKennitt's literate and sometimes experimental focus on Celtic-tinged traditional and original material, coupled with her haunting harp playing, has made her Canada's national chanteuse and new age troubadour since she broke through to prominence in the mid-'80s. The daughter of a nurse mother and a livestock-trading father, McKennitt studied classical piano and voice and learned to dance in the highland style as a youngster. Her love of traditional music was strengthened in the folk clubs of Winnipeg, which she frequented during the brief period she studied veterinary science at the University of Manitoba. Relocating to Stratford, Ontario, she continued to sharpen her skills as a composer and performer. In 1981, she auditioned for a role in the city's Stratford Festival of Canada. Although she did not get the role, she remained inspired. After reading Diane Sward Rapaport's book How to Make and Sell Your Own Recording, she formed her own label, Quinlan Road.

After releasing two albums, a nine-song cassette, Elemental, in 1985, and a collection of Christmas tunes, To Drive the Cold Winter Away, in 1987, she had her first breakthrough with her 1989 album, Parallel Dreams. With the help of a network of small independent distributors, the album sold more than 40,000 copies within four months. Its success was surpassed by McKennitt's fourth album, The Visit. Distributed by Warner Canada, the album sold over 600,000 copies (six times platinum) in Canada and received a Juno Award, as did McKennitt's next recording, The Mask and Mirror, in 1994.

While her albums have featured soothing, ultra-melodic arrangements, McKennitt's lyrics have reflected her interests in the poetry of W.B. Yeats, William Blake, and Alfred Lord Tennyson. Her music has been heard on the soundtracks of numerous plays and films. In 1989, she was commissioned by the National Film Board of Canada to compose the music for a film series, Woman and Spirituality. Her subsequent commissions include such films as Jade, Highlander III, and Disney's The Santa Clause, as well as TV shows including Northern Exposure, Due South, and EZ Streets.

In 1998, McKennitt scored her biggest hit with "The Mummers' Dance." She became a hit in America, which led to The Book of Secrets selling more than four million copies. Sadly, her world crumbled that July when her fiancé, Ronald Rees, died while on a sailing trip with his brother and a family friend in Georgian Bay. Everything stopped immediately in order for McKennitt to grieve. Rumors of her retirement also circulated. At the time of her fiancé's death, McKennitt was mixing a new album, Live in Paris and Toronto, at Peter Gabriel's Real World studios. Recorded in Salle Pleyel in Paris and Massey Hall in Toronto during spring 1998, the album was released in 1999. All profits from the album have gone to the Cook-Rees Memorial Fund, which McKennitt set up to finance water safety initiatives and education across Canada.

In the new millennium, McKennitt allowed herself some healing time. She didn't disappear from music altogether, however, and worked with a number of local and national charities. Her Spanish version of "Dante's Prayer" was featured in the Canadian/Venezuelan feature film A House with a View of the Sea in 2001. In 2002, she headlined a concert in Winnipeg for Queen Elizabeth, and in 2003 she received the Order of Canada. Two years later, McKennitt began work on her seventh studio album, Ancient Muse, which was released in 2006. Nights from the Alhambra, a live CD/DVD, arrived in 2007, followed by Midwinter Night's Dream, a collection of holiday music that included 1995's Winter Garden EP in its entirety, along with eight new recordings. A Mediterranean Odyssey was released in 2009; the two-disc set included Olive and the Cedar, an 11-song compilation of some of her best-loved Mediterranean pieces, along with From Istanbul to Athens, which was recorded live on her 2009 Mediterranean tour.

In 2010, McKennit returned with The Wind That Shakes the Barley, an album that found her revisiting the traditional Celtic style of her earlier work. In 2012, McKennit followed up that studio effort with the live and unplugged concert album Troubadours on the Rhine: A Trio Performance. Nights from the Alhambra, released early in 2014, was drawn from her 2006 tour in support of the Ancient Muse album. The two-disc The Journey So Far: The Best of Loreena McKennitt, which surveyed her three-decade recording career, drew a dozen key songs from her eight studio albums and her single releases and collected them on the first disc, and added a second bonus disc that featured live performances recorded in Mainz, Germany during McKennitt's 2012 A Midsummer's Night tour. ~ Craig Harris
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Troubadours On The Rhine

1. Bonny Portmore

2. Down By The Sally Gardens

3. The Wind That Shakes The Barley

4. Between The Shadows

5. The Lady Of Shalott

6. Stolen Child

7. Penelope's Song

8. The Bonny Swans

9. The Parting Glass

x

Track List: The Wind That Shakes The Barley

1. As I Roved Out

2. On A Bright May Morning

3. Brian Boru's March

4. Down By The Sally Gardens

5. The Star Of The County Down

6. The Wind That Shakes The Barley

7. The Death Of Queen Jane

8. The Emigration Tunes

9. The Parting Glass

x

Track List: Nights From The Alhambra

Disc 1

1. The Mystic's Dream (Live)

2. She Moved Through The Fair (Live)

3. Stolen Child (Live)

4. The Mummer's Dance (Live)

5. Penelope's Song (Live)

6. Marco Polo (Live)

7. The Bonny Swans (Live)

8. Dante's Prayer (Live)

9. Caravanserai (Live)

Disc 2

1. Bonny Portmore (Live)

2. Santiago (Live)

3. Raglan Road (Live)

4. All Souls Night (Live)

5. The Lady Of Shalott (Live)

6. The Old Ways (Live)

7. Never Ending Road (Amhran Duit) (Live)

8. Huron "Beltane" Fire Dance (Live)

9. Cymbeline (Live)

Disc 3
x

Track List: An Ancient Muse

1. Incantation

2. The Gates Of Istanbul

3. Caravanserai

4. The English Ladye And The Knight

5. Kecharitomene

6. Penelope's Song

7. Sacred Shabbat

8. Beneath A Phrygian Sky

x

Track List: Live In Paris And Toronto

Disc 1

1. Prologue (Live)

2. The Mummers' Dance (Live)

3. Skellig (Live)

4. Marco Polo (Live)

5. The Highway Man (Live)

6. La Serenissima (Live)

7. Night Ride Across The Caucasus (Live)

8. Dante's Prayer (Live)

Disc 2

1. The Mystic's Dream (Live)

2. Santiago (Live)

3. Bonny Portmore (Live)

4. Between The Shadows (Persian Shadows) (Live)

5. The Lady Of Shalott (Live)

6. The Bonny Swans (Live)

7. The Old Ways (Live)

8. All Souls Night (Live)

9. Cymbeline (Live)

x

Track List: The Book Of Secrets

1. Prologue

2. The Mummer's Dance

3. Skellig

4. Marco Polo

5. Highwayman

6. La Serenissima

7. Night Ride Across The Caucasus

8. Dante's Prayer

x

Track List: The Mask And Mirror

1. The Mystic's Dream

2. The Bonny Swans

3. The Dark Night Of The Soul

4. Marrakesh Night Market

5. Full Circle

6. Santiago

7. Ce He Mise Le Ulaingt? / The Two Trees

8. Prospero's Speech

x

Track List: The Visit

1. All Souls Night

2. Bonny Portmore

3. Between The Shadows

4. The Lady Of Shalott

5. Greensleeves

6. Tango To Evora

7. Courtyard Lullaby

8. The Old Ways

9. Cymbeline

x

Track List: Parallel Dreams

1. Samain Night

2. Moon Cradle

3. Huron 'beltane' Fire Dance

4. Annachie Gordon

5. Standing Stones

6. Dickens' Dublin (The Palace)

7. Breaking The Silence

8. Ancient Pines

x

Track List: Elemental

1. Blacksmith

2. She Moved Through The Fair

3. Stolen Child

4. The Lark In The Clear Air

5. Carrighfergus

6. Kellswater

7. Banks Of Claudy

8. Come By The Hills

9. Lullaby

x

Track List: A Winter Garden

1. Coventry Carol

2. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

3. Good King Wenceslas

4. Snow

5. Seeds Of Love

x

Track List: From Istanbul To Athens

1. The Gates Of Istanbul

2. The Dark Night Of The Soul

3. Marco Polo

4. Penelope's Song

5. Sacred Shabbat

6. Caravanserai

7. Santiago

8. Beneath A Phrygian Sky

9. Tango To Evora

10. Full Circle

x

Track List: The Olive And The Cedar

1. The Mystic's Dream

6. Marrakesh Night Market

Comments

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good voice and sound
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itsallmineno w
her music reminds me of some pieces throughout Tuck Everlasting, even though I know her pieces were created first.
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She's great! All Soul's Night, Mummer's Dance, Marco Polo, Mystic Dream, Prologue, on and on .. AND ..
She is one of the very few whose live performances are often as a good as her recorded songs!
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Oh yeah fits right in. Beauty.
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srfpt1
Ok ml LM
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dspanyer
I have enjoyed Loreena's music since the 1980s ... and still find a warm place in my heart for everything Loreena! Please keep producing new music for it touches the depths of my soul.
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I love this song. It's so hauntingly beautiful!
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I first heard her music in the original Le Femme Nakita series...I am surprised that is not mentioned above.
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She's one of my favorite artists ever. Her music makes me want to sing
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It is great, wonderful music
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I love this song!!! But where are the lyrics?
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saw her on the 2nd, was a wonderful concert, was glad I went, instead of watching the world series !!
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An angel came to Asheville this past Friday night and spoke to our souls. Loreena, your heart, passion, soul spoken words touched our hearts. You are a true healer, lover of the earth and all that inhabit it. Thank you for sharing yourself with our community and please come back soon!
With love and light, your brothers and sisters in song and spirit.
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Most recent, saw Loreena in concert...de e p l y intimate, cerebral in content and her voice seared the deepest Celtic roots of your ancestors. Very stirring and thought provoking leaving you longing for the past and not this hitech world of connectivity without soul and beauty.
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I've been listening to her since the 80's. Love her voice and the harp and her band. I took my brother, sister-in-la w and niece to see her at the Count Basie theatre in Red Bank, New Jersey. Less band members than appeared in her concert Night at the Alhambra, but they were still wonderful. I would love to see them in a real Celtic setting. I hope she finds love again.
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Love her sound and energy...... b l e s s and comfort and reinvigorate her through her loss and rebuilding of herself and her identity again....... . . . s h e is genius! Peace and brightest blessings to you dear!!
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I have been in severe pain and as I struggle to sleep I listen to her songs. They bring my soul peace through the agony. Thank you dear Lady. May you always be blessed and Loved! I hope someday to go to one of your concerts when I can walk again!
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Just left Ann Arbor mi after seeing her live.i have been blown away. The only word of description I can use is "angelic". what a voice! I loved her music for years but seeing live gives me a whole new perspective.
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why not this than darkness? i know not why.......po e t e s s of allure and depth of spirit
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angel91886
I LIKE YOUR MUSIC A LOT
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Her music is so beautiful!
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Celtic rebirth in that bold spirit wha hae lived in sweet patricius and legendary columcille. Although not of the maritimes, in the 1980's Loreena brought a nova scotia, a new hibernia, a rebirth of ancient pride rooted in yon caledonia, wales, eire as none other of my generation in greater vinland. Daughter of Keenit, you have served admirably with harp and song despite personal tragedy... there is beauty in that, for it is doubtful one can serve greatly until hurt deeply. a damnable truth.
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angel91886
I am 6
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angel91886
!!!!!!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
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Very beautiful... . I feel like I'm thrown into another realm.
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My wife and myself went and saw her live in Bend, OR in March...Let me tell ya, it was a struggle to find tickets for a reasonable price. Anyway, it was a very awesome venue at the Tower Theatre. But man, was she ever preachy!!! Love the music and please keep it about that Loreena!!!
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Beautiful..m a g i c k a l
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Her music really gets under the skin and lodges deep, doesn't it?
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beautiful music......
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Wow is all i can muster....!
And thank you too, of course...!
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Discovered her music about 8 years ago & have become a big fan!
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I've been listening to her since I was a sophomore in high school...bac k in 95'. She's soooo amazing!!
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She's great! All Soul's Night, Mummer's Dance, Marco Polo, Mystic Dream, Prologue, on and on .. AND ..
She is one of the very few whose live performances are often as a good as her recorded songs!
Report as inappropriate
Perfect dancing song
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Blessed Be
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I can't wait, she's coming to Kalamazoo in October of this year, bought tickets for my mom, my sister and I! I grew up on her music, every fall, we listened to The Book of Secrets!
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adam wade
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We need Loreena at Vancouver Folk Festival on Jericho Beach
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msg20026
Error about Nights from the Alhambra it was released August 2007 and not early 2014. The Journey So far compilation was early 2014.
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Raven is the only girl !
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Courage 05 I'm sad to see you have gone private. I enjoyed At least 90% of it anyway. As long as it was uplifting...

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jqusaproud
I'm a huge fan! Own all of your albums! Seen you a couple of times when your in the bay area, this time was just this past March 19th at The Masonic Center in San Francisco. Outstanding performance like always! I end up crying at least on one of your songs, because they're soulful and breathtaking beautiful... it's like you pierce my soul. God Bless and safe travels!
Report as inappropriate
She's great! All Soul's Night, Mummer's Dance, Marco Polo, Mystic Dream, Prologue, on and on .. AND ..
She is one of the very few whose live performances are often as a good as her recorded songs!
Report as inappropriate
First heard Mystics Dream in a movie called The Mists of Avalon. It was awesome.
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syntht
Saw her last month in Tempe AZ. I got great tickets, it was worth every penny (she is playing in a trio, not the full-tilt orchestra).
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apraxic
Just saw her in concert in Seattle, Not to be missed!
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She's great! All Soul's Night, Mummer's Dance, Marco Polo, Mystic Dream, Prologue, on and on .. AND ..
She is one of the very few whose live performances are often as a good as her recorded songs!
Report as inappropriate
samcell05
I love your songs. Your voice is so graceful and sounds so peaceful.��. In 2 grade....... . . . Bella Shah��.
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joseph.rinck
Just saw her live in Santa Barbara last nite incredible show.
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@Cheese Noodles - I hope you got to go! She's unfortunatel y nowhere near where I live. Seeing her live would be wondrous.
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