Friday, November 18, 2011

Loreena McKennitt

Perhaps five years ago I came upon a YouTube of Loreena McKennitt singing "The Highwayman." Captivated, I simply listened, without thinking to find out more about the artist. FINALLY, tonight, just, I decided to look for more about the artist, and what treasures I have found!

My God in heaven above, this woman is DOING EXACTLY THE THING I'VE BEEN PLANNING TO DO SINCE March / April of this year!!!

A Brief Overview

Canadian singer/composer Loreena McKennitt is self-managed, self-produced, and the head of her own internationally successful record label, Quinlan Road. In a recording career spanning nearly two decades, McKennitt's “eclectic Celtic” music has won critical acclaim worldwide and gold, platinum and multi-platinum sales awards in fifteen countries across four continents.

Born in the province of Manitoba, Canada, Loreena moved to Stratford, Ontario, Canada in 1981, where she still resides. She has acted and sung in, and composed music for Stratford Festival of Canada productions ranging from The Tempest (1982) to The Merchant Of Venice (2001).

Her recording career began in 1985 with the album Elemental. In the fledgling years of her label Quinlan Road, Loreena ran its operations from her kitchen table, selling recordings by mail order and producing her own concert tours across the country. Quinlan Road's catalogue is currently distributed around the world by The Verve Music Group (US), Universal Music (Canada and other territories including Italy and Spain) and a number of independents including Keltia Music (France) and SPV (Germany).

Loreena continues to manage her career from her Stratford base. An active member of her community, she has founded and oversees important charitable undertakings in the fields of water safety and family/childhood support services.


Record Sales

Over 14 million albums sold worldwide, to date, over a catalogue spanning eight studio recordings, one double live CD, a DVD/two CD set and two DVDs.

Canadian sales awards include one five-times platinum certification for sales of over 500,000 copies (The Visit), two four-times platinum certifications for sales of over 400,000 copies (The Mask And Mirror, The Book Of Secrets ), and four gold certifications for sales of over 50,000 copies (Elemental, To Drive The Cold Winter Away, Parallel Dreams, A Winter Garden: Five Songs For The Season).
US sales awards include one double-platinum certification for sales of over two million copies for The Book Of Secrets, whose success was led by the radio-driven Top 20 Billboard success of hit single “The Mummers' Dance”, which would go on to meet similar success worldwide. US sales awards also include two platinum certifications for sales of over one million copies (The Mask And Mirror, The Visit).

Gold, platinum and multi-platinum sales awards in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, New Zealand, Spain and Turkey.

Composition and Music Use for Theatre and Film

Original music for The Merchant of Venice, The Stratford Festival of Canada, 2001.

Original music for the National Film Board of Canada Studio D documentary series Women And Spirituality, 1985 - 1989.

Film soundtrack contributions include Hollywood productions Highlander III and The Santa Clause, Jean-Claude Lauzon's feature film Léolo and the Canadian/Venezuelan feature film Una Casa Con Vista Al Mar.

Television soundtrack use includes TNT's epic miniseries The Mists Of Avalon (2001), Due South, Northern Exposure.

Awards and Honours

Juno Award, Best Roots/Traditional Album1992, for The Visit.

Juno Award, Best Roots/Traditional Album 1994, for The Mask And Mirror.

Billboard International Achievement Award, 1997.

Headline performer for HRH Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, The Golden

Jubilee Celebrations, Province of Manitoba, 2002.

Honorary Doctor of Letters, Wilfrid Laurier University, 2002.

Order of Manitoba, July 2003.

Member of the Order of Canada, July 2004.

Honorary Doctor of Laws, University of Manitoba, June 2005

Canadian Ambassador, Hans Christian Andersen Bicentennary, June 2005

Honorary Doctor of Laws, Queen's University, October 2005

Investiture as Honorary Colonel, 435 Squadron, Canadian Air Force, December 2006

Nominated for a GrammyTM award, Best Contemporary World Music Album, in 2007

Honorary Bachelor of Applied Business in Financial Services, George Brown College, 2010

Charitable Enterprises

Loreena founded The Cook-Rees Memorial Fund for Water Search and Safety in 1998 and raised nearly $4,000,000 Canadian for the Fund's initiatives in the fields of water safety education and research. A major portion of the money raised for the CRMF came from sales of the Loreena McKennitt recording, Live In Paris And Toronto.

Donated monies raised by sales of Live In Paris And Toronto in Turkey and Greece to the earthquake relief funds of the Red Crescent Turkey and the Hellenic Red Cross, respectively.

Purchased the Falstaff School in Stratford in 2000 and, in 2002, founded the
Falstaff Family Centre, which offers facilities to a number of volunteer and not-for-profit community and family groups.

Established The Three Oaks Foundation, a charitable body which gives money to cultural, environmental, historical and social groups.


Elemental(Quinlan Road, 1985)
To Drive The Cold Winter Away(Quinlan Road, 1987)
Parallel Dreams(Quinlan Road, 1987)
The Visit(Quinlan Road, 1991)
The Mask And Mirror(Quinlan Road, 1994)
A Winter Garden: Five Songs For The Season(Quinlan Road, 1995)
The Book Of Secrets(Quinlan Road, 1997)
Live In Paris And Toronto(Quinlan Road, 1999)
An Ancient Muse (Quinlan Road, 2006)
Nights from the Alhambra(Perseus Productions/Quinlan Road, 2007)
A Moveable Musical Feast (Perseus Productions/Quinlan Road, 2008)
A Midwinter Night's Dream (Quinlan Road, 2008)

MEDIA INQUIRIES: for more information or a more comprehensive press kit, please contact:

Quinlan Road
Tel 1-519-273-3876; Fax 1-519-273-4553
PO Box 933, Stratford, Ontario, Canada N5A 7M3

Many people come to know the public persona of an artist and wonder what they are like off-stage. I may not be the best person to paint that picture, but let me try.

I grew up in rural Manitoba, Canada, the daughter of a nurse and a livestock dealer and enjoyed a fairly free and easy rural childhood. I aspired to be a veterinarian as a child but, in the way that “the best laid plans get sent sideways”, I found that music chose me rather than me, it. Interestingly, even after many years of performing, I don’t consider myself to have the strong extroverted personality best suited for a career in music, but rather one which is more comfortable on a farm, in an informal gathering of friends.

I became smitten with what is now referred to as Celtic music in the late 1970s, but it was only when I started to connect with its history that my journey really began. At an exhibition of Celtic artifacts in Venice in 1991, I learned about the geographic and historic spread of the Celts. I found myself drawn into a rich, ancient tapestry of sounds and rhythms and stories. I discovered myths and traditions that resemble one another from far corners of the globe, people who share traits and yet are distinctive.

My starting point is the belief that, in one way or another, we are all an extension of each other’s history. Wanting to learn about our neighbours is also a desire to learn about ourselves. I have simply chosen the Celtic vehicle in which to do this. No doubt I could have chosen another conduit for my music – let’s say the history of hats – and experienced just as interesting a journey as I have had with Celtic history. But that vehicle has taken me to so many places and people worldwide and also down paths and into themes with little Celtic connection whatsoever.

But music is not only a marvelous medium for self-education and creative expression. I am also in awe of music’s unique capacity to induce and enhance moods and psychological states and the great linkages it has to physiology. This is illustrated in the field of music therapy, not only for humans but also for animals. I think of dairy farmers who pipe in classical music to induce cows to give more milk, or of a recent film set in Mongolia called The Story of the Weeping Camel, in which a mother camel rejects her calf only to reclaim it following a musical ritual. I think of the MIT professor who uses MRI scans to study the impact on the brain of the meditation and chanting of Kundalini yoga.

I am deeply interested in these connections between physiology and our spiritual and psychological beings, and the many events and experiences that inspire us. Surely some creativity comes from this set of intersections.

Beyond music, I have a free-ranging curiosity about many things and a pretty hefty filing cabinet to prove it! My drawers are chock-a-block full of clippings and materials on subjects ranging from childhood development to environmental issues, agriculture, politics, food and nutrition, puppets, religion and many world issues.

Some of these interests are knit deeply into my daily life and our work at Quinlan Road, as I think it’s important to give to and be part of our greater communities. In 1998, I started the Cook-Rees Memorial Fund for Water Search and Safety, when three people very dear to me – Ronald Rees, Richard Rees and Gregory Cook – perished in a boating incident not far from where I live. Thanks to the generosity of friends and families in Stratford and around Canada and the world, we’ve been able to support a range of initiatives involving water safety education as well as search, rescue and recovery exercises. I cannot tell you how inspiring it has been for me to get to know the wonderful, dedicated people working in this area, many of whom go out to risk their lives on our behalf every day.

Another project close to my heart has been the establishment of the Falstaff Family Centre. This initiative began as an effort to rescue a redundant school house in the city where I live and bring it to its next incarnation. It is a lovely, sturdy building, very close to the river and by working with people in the community, we’ve been able to turn this historic building into a centre for community and children’s activities.

Each spring, I carve out time to plant my garden in order to keep some remnants of an intimate relationship with food, the land and the seasons and every autumn, I set aside time to celebrate the harvest at Thanksgiving.

And just as one builds a company’s mission statement based on values and principles, I have done the same thing for myself. Certain principles have become my compass points. I reference them whenever I make important choices and decisions, professionally or personally. They are things to which I strive and am pleased to share some of them with you.

Be compassionate and never forget how to love.

Think inclusively.

Reclaim noble values such as truth, honesty, honour, courage.

Respect one's elders and look to what they have to teach you.

Be empathetic.

Look after the less fortunate in society.

Promote and protect diversity.

Respect the gifts of the natural world.

Set your goals high and take pride in what you do.

Cherish and look after your body, and, as the ancient Greeks believed, your mind will serve you better.

Put back into the community as there have been those before you have done the same and you are reaping what they sowed.

Participate in and protect democracy. It does not thrive as a spectator sport.

Undertake due diligence in everything.

Seek balance and space, and solitude.

Don't be afraid to feel passionate about something.

Learn to be an advocate and an ambassador for good.

Be mindful of your limitations.

Indulge and nurture your curiosity as it will keep you vital.

Take charge of your life and don't fall into the pit of entitlement.
Assume nothing and take nothing for granted.

Things are not necessarily what they seem.