- The Rainbow Connection
Sarah Ann McLachlan, OC, OBC (born January 28, 1968) is a Canadian musician, singer, songwriter, and pianist.
Known for her emotional ballads and mezzo-soprano vocal range, as of 2009, she has sold over 40 million albums worldwide. McLachlan’s best-selling album to date is Surfacing, for which she won two Grammy Awards (out of four nominations) and four Juno Awards. In addition to her personal artistic efforts, she founded the Lilith Fair tour, which showcased female musicians on an unprecedented scale. The Lilith Fair concert tours took place from 1997 to 1999, and resumed in the summer of 2010. On May 6, 2014, she released her first album of original music in four years, titled Shine On.
Sarah McLachlan was born on January 28, 1968, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and adopted. Her biological father is Paddy Maiorana and her biological mother was Tracey Robertson. Her parents have Scottish ancestry. As a child, she took voice lessons, along with studies in classical piano and guitar. When she was 17 years old and still a student at Queen Elizabeth High School in Halifax, she fronted a short-lived rock band called The October Game. One of the band’s songs, “Grind,” credited as a group composition, can be found on the independent Flamingo Records release Out of the Fog and the CD Out of the Fog Too. It has yet to be released elsewhere. Her high school yearbook predicted that she was “destined to become a famous rock star.”
Following the October Game’s first concert at Dalhousie University opening for Moev, McLachlan was offered a recording contract with Vancouver-based independent record label Nettwerk by Moev’s Mark Jowett. McLachlan’s parents insisted she finish high school and complete one year of studies at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design before moving to Vancouver and embarking on a new life as a recording artist. She finally signed to Nettwerk two years later before having written a single song.
In 1994 McLachlan was sued by Uwe Vandrei, an obsessed fan from Ottawa, who alleged that his letters to her had been the basis of the single “Possession“. The lawsuit was also challenging for the Canadian legal system: Vandrei was an admitted stalker whose acknowledged goal in filing the lawsuit was to be near McLachlan. Consequently, precautions were taken to ensure McLachlan’s safety if she had to be in the same location as Vandrei. Before the trial began however, Vandrei was found dead in an apparent suicide. Vandrei’s preoccupation with McLachlan was explored at length in Canadian author Judith Fitzgerald‘s book, Building a Mystery: The Story of Sarah McLachlan & Lilith Fair.
In 1997, McLachlan married her drummer, Ashwin Sood, in Jamaica. While pregnant, her mother died from cancer in December 2001. Shortly thereafter, while working on the production on her next album, Afterglow, she gave birth to a daughter, India Ann Sushil Sood in Vancouver on April 6, 2002. On June 22, 2007, she gave birth to her second daughter, Taja Summer Sood, in Vancouver. McLachlan announced her separation from Ashwin Sood in September 2008 and they divorced the same year.
The signing with Nettwerk prompted McLachlan to move to Vancouver, British Columbia. There she recorded the first of her albums, Touch, in 1988, which received both critical and commercial success and included the hit song “Vox.” During this period she also contributed to an album by Moev, and embarked on her first national concert tour as an opening act for The Grapes of Wrath.
Her 1991 album, Solace, was her mainstream breakthrough in Canada, spawning the hit singles “The Path of Thorns (Terms)” and “Into the Fire“. Solace also marked the beginning of her partnership with Pierre Marchand. Marchand and McLachlan have been collaborators ever since, with Marchand producing many of McLachlan’s albums and occasionally co-writing songs.
1993’s Fumbling Towards Ecstasy was an immediate hit in Canada. From her Nettwerk connection, her piano version of the song “Possession” was included on the first Due South soundtrack in 1996. Over the next two years, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy quietly became McLachlan’s international breakthrough as well, scaling the charts in a number of countries.
In 1993, Darryl Neudorf filed a lawsuit against McLachlan and her label, Nettwerk, alleging that he had made a significant and uncredited contribution to the songwriting on Touch, and alleging that he was not paid properly for work done on Solace. The judge in this suit eventually ruled in McLachlan’s favour on the songs; though Neudorf may have contributed to the songwriting, neither regarded each other as joint authors. The judge ruled in Neudorf’s favour on the payment issue.
Following the success from Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, McLachlan returned in 1997 with Surfacing, her best-selling and best-known album to date. The album earned her two 1998 Grammy Awards, one for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance (for “Building a Mystery“) and one for Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance (for “Last Dance“), and four Juno Awards, including Album of the Year for Surfacing and Song of the Year and Songwriter of the Year for “Building a Mystery”. The album has since sold over 16 million copies worldwide and brought her much international success. Still in the spotlight from the album, McLachlan launched the highly popular Lilith Fair tour. Her song “Angel“—inspired by the fatal overdose of Smashing Pumpkins touring keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin—made sales skyrocket.
In Spring 1998, the motion picture City of Angels featured “Angel”. It became the No. 1 album on the Billboard chart. More than five months after the movie disappeared from the theatres, City of Angels: Music from the Motion Picture remained firmly entrenched among Billboard’s top 40 albums. This soundtrack earned quadruple-platinum status.
McLachlan returned to public life and touring with her 2003 album release, Afterglow, which contained the singles “Fallen“, “Stupid”, and “World On Fire“. Rather than shoot a conventional music video for “World On Fire”, McLachlan donated all but $15 of the $150,000 budget to various charitable causes around the world and then used the video to explain how it benefited the communities that received the money.
Another live album, Afterglow Live, was released in late 2004. The CD consisted of several tracks from a full-length concert, which was included in its entirety on a DVD, as well as the three music videos from Afterglow.
In 2004, Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels, who credits McLachlan and her music for lifting him from a period of depression, as he described publicly on NPR Moth Radio Hour “Angel” dated Sept 9, 2014, invited her to join him on a track from his solo album. Although the album was not released until early 2006, remixes of the song “Just Like Me” were included on a number of compilations in 2005.
In October 2006, McLachlan released a Christmas album called Wintersong. The album included 11 new recordings, featuring covers of Joni Mitchell‘s “River“, Gordon Lightfoot‘s “Song for a Winter’s Night“, and John Lennon‘s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)“, which she recorded with her outreach children and youth choir, and seasonal favourites: “Christmas Time Is Here”, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, “Silent Night”, “The First Noel”, and “Greensleeves (What Child Is This?)”, among others. The title track is an original work of McLachlan’s.
Wintersong debuted at No. 42 on the Billboard 200 album chart the week ending 4 November 2006. It peaked at #7. For the week of 5 December 2006, it was the #1 album on iTunes. Worldwide the album has sold over 1.1 million copies to date. It has been certified Platinum in the U.S. and 2x Platinum in Canada.
On October 3, 2006, the live album Mirrorball was re-released as Mirrorball: The Complete Concert. This release contains 2 discs that were compiled from 2 concerts performed on consecutive nights in April 1998 at the Rose Garden arena in Portland, Oregon.
On April 29, 2008, Rarities, B-Sides and Other Stuff Volume 2 was released. The tracklist includes McLachlan’s recent covers of Joni Mitchell‘s “River” and Dave Stewart’s “Ordinary Miracle”, as well as collaborations throughout her career with The Perishers, Cyndi Lauper and Bryan Adams, among others.
On August 5, 2008, the 15th anniversary three-disc edition of Fumbling Towards Ecstasy was released. The set includes the original re-mastered album, The Freedom Sessions and a DVD that includes live performances, music videos and more. The album was released by Legacy Recordings.
McLachlan released a greatest hits album, Closer: The Best of Sarah McLachlan, on October 7, 2008. On August 12, 2008, she released a new song from the album, “U Want Me 2“, a mid-tempo contemplative love song, as a digital single on iTunes; also accompanied with a video performance. McLachlan also admitted the song was inspired by the dissolution of her marriage, which she announced in September 2008, during initial promotion. “Don’t Give Up on Us”, the other new song on the album, was released as the second and final single on 3 February 2009. Both singles were subsequently included on her next album, Laws of Illusion.
A new single, “One Dream,” was released on September 29, 2009 and was the official theme song of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. McLachlan’s first studio album of original material in nearly seven years, Laws of Illusion, was released on June 15, 2010. New York Times music critic John Pareles says about Laws of Illusion – “It’s a kindly, enveloping sound that Ms. McLachlan has long used to conjure passion and empathy laced with melancholy. But now it encompasses a new anguish, deeper and sharper than what she hinted at with Afterglow in 2003.” It features 10 new songs in addition to the previously released tracks “U Want Me 2” and “Don’t Give Up on Us,” as well as various bonus tracks. Previews of the tracks and bonus materials were made available on iTunes and Amazon.com for listening and viewing on May 26, 2010. Lilith Fair kicked off in Calgary, AB on June 27, 2010. In anticipation of the album and the summer’s tour, McLachlan appeared on the WNYC-produced radio show Soundcheck. During the wide-ranging interview, McLachlan discussed with host John Schaefer the last eleven years of her life and how she has changed, especially as a working mother of two.
In late January 2014, McLachlan announced the release of her next studio album, Shine On, which was inspired by the death of her father. It was her first release on Verve Records, after leaving Nettwerk/Arista after over twenty years. The album was released on May 6, 2014.
In March 2014 McLachlan announced a schedule for a tour across the United States, which began in Seattle on June 20, 2014. The tour visited 30 cities all together. The Canadian leg of the tour will include 25 shows in 21 cities.
Shine On was #1 on iTunes Canada Top 10, for the week ending on May 11. On May 14, 2014, it was announced that the album debuted at #4 on the US Billboard charts, with 42,000 copies. On June 24, 2014, Shine On was certified Gold (40,000 units sold) by the Canadian Recording Industry Association.
In 1996 McLachlan became frustrated with concert promoters and radio stations that refused to feature two female musicians in a row. Bucking conventional industry wisdom, she booked a successful tour for herself and Paula Cole. At least one of their appearances together – in McLachlan’s home town, on September 14, 1996 – went by the name “Lilith Fair” and included performances by McLachlan, Cole, Lisa Loeb and Michelle McAdorey, formerly of Crash Vegas.
In 1997, Lilith Fair, featuring McLachlan as one of the headlining acts, garnered a $16 million gross, making it the top-grossing of any touring festival. Among all concert tours for that year, it was the 16th highest grossing.Lilith Fair tour brought together 2 million people over its three-year history and raised more than $7 million for charities. It was the most successful all-female music festival in history, one of the biggest music festivals of the 1990s, and helped launch the careers of several well-known female artists. Subsequent Lilith Fairs followed in 1998 and 1999 before the tour was discontinued.
Nettwerk CEO and Lilith Fair co-founder Terry McBride announced that the all-female festival would make its return in the summer of 2010 in Canada, the United States, and Europe. A list of 36 North American shows was released. But poor ticket sales, financial problems, and headliners’ withdrawing out of fear of not being paid caused 13 of the shows to be cancelled. The two-week European tour never materialized.
In 1997, McLachlan co-wrote and provided guest vocals on the Delerium song “Silence” for their album Karma. This song achieved a massive amount of US top 40 airplay when released as a single in late 2000 and also featured on the soundtrack for the movie Brokedown Palace. In 2001, McLachlan provided background vocals, guitar, and piano on the closing track “Love Is” from Stevie Nicks‘ eighth solo album, Trouble in Shangri-La, in addition to drawing the dragon used for the “S” in Stevie’s name on the album cover. In May 2002, her duet with Bryan Adams was released on the Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron soundtrack. She sang harmonies and played the piano on the song “Don’t Let Go” while Sood did the drum work.
In 1998, in addition to performing her own set, she performed a cover of Cat Stevens‘ “Sad Lisa” with rock band Phish at the annual Bridge School Benefit concert in California, hosted by Neil Young. During 1999, she released a live album, Mirrorball. The album’s singles included a new live version of her earlier song, “I Will Remember You”, a studio recording of which had previously been released on The Brothers McMullen soundtrack as well as Rarities, B-Sides and Other Stuff. The song was released as a single twice, once in 1995 where it peaked #65 on the US billboard hot 100 and #10 in Canada, and again in 1999 at #14 on the US billboard hot 100 and #10 in Canada. The 1999 version garnered McLachlan her third Grammy Awards for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance (for “I Will Remember You“) in 2000.
In 1999, McLachlan (as the singing voice of “Jessie“) recorded the Randy Newman song “When She Loved Me” on the Toy Story 2 soundtrack. This song was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song in 2000, and McLachlan performed it at the awards ceremony, but the award went to “You’ll Be in My Heart” from Tarzan, written and recorded by Phil Collins.
McLachlan also participated in several concerts during her break, such as Sheryl Crow‘s Live from Central Park in 1999, the Arista Records twenty-fifth anniversary celebration in 2000, as well as the 2002 British Columbia Cancer Foundation Benefit Concert in memory of cancer victim Michele Bourbonnais. She participated along with four other Canadian artists: Bryan Adams, Jann Arden, Barenaked Ladies, and Chantal Kreviazuk.