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Loreena McKennitt

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Title: Loreena McKennitt  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: A Midwinter Night's Dream, The Mummers' Dance, An Ancient Muse, Juno Award for Artist of the Year, Live in San Francisco at the Palace of Fine Arts
Collection: 1957 Births, Canadian Female Singers, Canadian Folk Musicians, Canadian Harpists, Canadian Keyboardists, Canadian People of Irish Descent, Canadian People of Scottish Descent, Canadian Pianists, Canadian Singer-Songwriters, Canadian Sopranos, Celtic Fusion Musicians, Fast Folk Artists, Living People, Members of the Order of Canada, Members of the Order of Manitoba, Musicians from Ontario, People from Morden, Manitoba, Verve Records Artists, Warner Bros. Records Artists
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Loreena McKennitt

Loreena McKennitt
McKennitt in 2012
Background information
Birth name Loreena Isabel Irene McKennitt
Born (1957-02-17) February 17, 1957
Morden, Manitoba, Canada
Origin Stratford, Ontario, Canada
Genres Celtic, world, new-age
Occupation(s) Musician, singer-songwriter, producer
Instruments Vocals, piano, harp, accordion
Years active 1985–present
Labels Quinlan Road, Warner Bros., Verve Forecast/Universal
Website .comloreenamckennitt

Loreena Isabel Irene McKennitt, CM OM (born February 17, 1957) is a Canadian musician, composer, harpist, accordionist and pianist who writes, records and performs world music with Celtic and Middle Eastern themes. McKennitt is known for her refined and clear dramatic soprano vocals.[1] She has sold more than 14 million records worldwide.[2]


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Honours 4
  • Genre and work 5
  • Court case 6
  • 2006 and later 7
  • Documentaries 8
  • Discography 9
    • Studio albums 9.1
    • Live albums 9.2
    • EPs 9.3
    • Compilations 9.4
    • Boxed sets 9.5
    • Singles 9.6
    • Videos 9.7
    • Other 9.8
    • Quinlan Road label 9.9
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12

Early life

McKennitt was born in Morden, Manitoba, of Irish and Scottish descent to parents Jack (died 1992) and Irene McKennitt (1931–2011). In 1981, she moved to Stratford, Ontario, where she still resides.

When she was young McKennitt wanted to become a veterinarian; she would later state that music chose her rather than she it.[3] Developing a passion for Celtic music, she learned to play the Celtic harp and began busking at various places, including St. Lawrence Market in Toronto in order to earn money to record her first album.[4]


McKennitt's first album, Elemental, was released in 1985, followed by To Drive the Cold Winter Away (1987), Parallel Dreams (1989), The Visit (1991), The Mask and Mirror (1994), A Winter Garden (1995), The Book of Secrets (1997), An Ancient Muse (2006), A Midwinter Night’s Dream (2008), and The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2010). All of her work is released under her own label, Quinlan Road.

In 1990, McKennitt provided the music for the National Film Board of Canada documentary The Burning Times, a feminist revisionist account of the Early Modern European witchcraft trials. The main theme song would later be rerecorded by her and her band on her album The Visit under the title "Tango to Evora."

In 1993, she toured Europe supporting Mike Oldfield. In 1995, her version of the traditional Irish song "Bonny Portmore" was featured in the Highlander series. McKennitt's single "The Mummers' Dance" received airplay in North American markets during the spring of 1997, and was used as the theme song for the short-lived TV series Legacy. It also saw use in the trailer for a wide-release 1998 Drew Barrymore film Ever After.[5]

Her music appeared in the movies The Santa Clause, Soldier, Jade, Holy Man, The Mists of Avalon and Tinkerbell; and in the television series Roar, Due South, and Full Circle (Women and Spirituality).

On November 30, 2012, McKennitt lent her support to Kate Winslet’s Golden Hat Foundation together with Tim Janis, Sarah McLachlan, Andrea Corr, Hayley Westenra, Sleepy Man Banjo Boys, Dawn Kenney, Jana Mashonee, Amy Petty and a choir etc performing on "The American Christmas Carol" concert in Carnegie Hall.[6][7][8]

Personal life

In 1998, McKennitt's fiancé Ronald Rees, his brother Richard and their close friend Gregory Cook drowned in a boating accident on Cook-Rees Memorial Fund for Water Search and Safety in the same year.

At the time of the incident, she was working on a live album of two performances called Live in Paris and Toronto. The proceeds from this album were donated to the newly created memorial fund, totaling some three million dollars.[9] After the release of the live album, McKennitt decided to substantially reduce the number of her public performances and did not release any new recordings until the studio album An Ancient Muse in 2006.


Genre and work

McKennitt's music has generally been classified as World or Celtic music even though it contains aspects and characteristics of music from around the globe and is sometimes classified as folk music in record stores.

Before McKennitt composes any music, she engages in considerable research on a specific subject which then forms the general concept of the album.[12] Before creating Elemental and Parallel Dreams, she travelled to Ireland for inspiration from the country's history, folklore, geography and culture. The album The Mask and Mirror was preceded by research in Spain where she engaged in studying Galicia, a Celtic section of Spain, along with its abundant Arabic roots.[13] The result was an album that included elements of Celtic and Arabic music. According to the jacket notes, her album An Ancient Muse was inspired by travels among and reading about the various cultures along the Silk Road.

McKennitt is compared to Enya, but McKennitt's music is more grounded in traditional and classical invocations, using literary works as sources of lyrics and springboards for interpretation such as "The Lady of Shalott" by Lord Tennyson, "Prospero's Speech" (the final soliloquy in William Shakespeare's The Tempest), "Snow" by Archibald Lampman, "Dark Night of the Soul" by St. John of the Cross, Dante's Inferno, William Blake's "Lullaby", Yeats' "The Stolen Child", "The English Ladye and the Knight" by Sir Walter Scott and "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes.

Court case

In 2005, McKennitt was involved in an acrimonious court case in England when her former friend and employee, Niema Ash, published a book that contained intimate details of their friendship. McKennitt argued that much of the book contained confidential personal information that Ash had no right to publish. The English courts found that there had indeed been a breach of confidence and a misuse of McKennitt's private information, and the case is likely to set important precedents in the law of England and Wales on the privacy of public figures.[14] The House of Lords affirmed the lower court's decisions in 2007.

2006 and later

In September 2006, McKennitt performed live at the Alhambra. The performance premiered on PBS and in August 2007 was released on a three-disc DVD/CD set titled Nights from the Alhambra.

In 2008, McKennitt wrote and composed a song she titled "To The Fairies They Draw Near" as the theme song for Disney's direct-to-video animated film Tinker Bell. She also provided the narration for the film.[15]

In early 2008, she returned to Peter Gabriel's Real World Studios to record A Midwinter Night’s Dream, an extended version of her 1995 mini-album A Winter Garden: Five Songs for the Season. The album was released on October 28, 2008.[16]

Since the release of An Ancient Muse, McKennitt has toured consistently, with a European and North American tour in 2007 and another extensive tour across Canada and United States later in 2007, a tour of Europe in 2008 and a Mediterranean tour in 2009 with stops in Greece,[17] Turkey, Cyprus, Lebanon, Hungary and Italy.

On September 17, 2009, McKennitt announced that she planned to release a two-disc album titled A Mediterranean Odyssey. The first CD, "From Istanbul to Athens", consisted of 10 new live recordings made during her 2009 Mediterranean tour, including songs she had never before recorded in concert. The second CD, "The Olive and the Cedar", had a Mediterranean theme which McKennitt herself curated. It contained previously released studio recordings created between 1994 and 2006.

November 16, 2010, saw the US release (November 12 for Europe) of McKennitt's latest studio album, The Wind That Shakes the Barley. Recorded at the Sharon Temple, Ontario, it consists of nine traditional Celtic songs. "Every once and again there is a pull to return to one's own roots or beginnings, with the perspective of time and experience, to feel the familiar things you once loved and love still", said McKennitt.[18]

When McKennitt released The Wind that Shakes the Barley she visited several countries to help promote the album. During the promotional tour she performed an hour-long concert in the studios of German radio station SWR1, accompanied only by Brian Hughes (guitars) and Caroline Lavelle (cello) who have long been part of her tours and recordings. This live concert was released on CD in 2011. Called Troubadours on the Rhine, the album was nominated for a 2012 Grammy for Best New Age Album.


Late in the 1990s, McKennitt created No Journey's End, a half-hour documentary, for American television in which she discussed the influences behind her music. No Journey's End contained excerpts from several songs from the albums Parallel Dreams, The Visit, and The Mask and Mirror It also shows live performances of the songs "The Lady of Shalott", "Santiago", and "The Dark Night of the Soul". It was later released on DVD and VHS, the former also containing music videos for "The Mummers' Dance" and "The Bonny Swans." A bonus copy of the DVD was included with the 2004 remastered versions of McKennitt's CDs.

In 2008, McKennitt released A Moveable Musical Feast, based on her 2007 An Ancient Muse tour. The DVD included interviews with McKennitt, her band, crew, fans and professional colleagues from the Canadian music industry.


Studio albums

Year Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales threshold)
1985 Elemental
  • Release date: 1985
  • Label: Quinlan Road
1987 To Drive the Cold Winter Away
  • Release date: 1987
  • Label: Quinlan Road
1989 Parallel Dreams
  • Release date: 1989
  • Label: Quinlan Road
1991 The Visit
  • Release date: 1991
  • Label: Quinlan Road, Warner Bros. (USA)
  • BR: Gold[23]
  • CAN: 4× Platinum[24]
  • US: Gold[25]
1994 The Mask and Mirror
  • Release date: March 22, 1994
  • Label: Quinlan Road, Warner Bros. (USA)
4 18 143
  • ARG: Gold[26]
  • CAN: 3× Platinum[24]
  • US: Gold[25]
1997 The Book of Secrets
  • Release date: September 30, 1997
  • Label: Quinlan Road, Warner Bros. (USA)
3 7 17
  • ARG: Gold[26]
  • CAN: 4× Platinum[24]
  • US: 2× Platinum[25]
  • GER: Gold[27]
2006 An Ancient Muse
  • Release date: November 21, 2006
  • Label: Quinlan Road, MRA
9 15 83
  • CAN: Platinum[24]
2008 A Midwinter Night's Dream
  • Release date: October 28, 2008
  • Label: Quinlan Road, Universal
12 27 140
2010 The Wind That Shakes the Barley
  • Release date: November 12, 2010
  • Label: Quinlan Road
13 28 141
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Live albums

Year Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales threshold)
1995 Live in San Francisco at the Palace of Fine Arts
  • Release date: October 1995
  • Label: Quinlan Road
1999 Live in Paris and Toronto
  • Release date: September 22, 1999
  • Label: Quinlan Road
2007 Nights from the Alhambra
  • Release date: August 21, 2007
  • Label: Quinlan Road, Verve
11 190
  • GER: Platinum[27]
2009 A Mediterranean Odyssey
  • Release date: October 20, 2009
  • Label: Quinlan Road
2012 Troubadours On the Rhine
  • Release date: 2012
  • Label: Quinlan Road
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


Year Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales threshold)
1995 A Winter Garden: Five Songs for the Season
  • Release date: November 1995
  • Label: Quinlan Road, Warner Bros. (USA)
  • CAN: Gold[24]
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


Year Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales threshold)
2009 A Mummers' Dance Through Ireland
  • Release date: 2009
  • Label: Quinlan Road
- - - -
2013 The Journey So Far – The Best of Loreena McKennitt
  • Release date: 2013
  • Label: Quinlan Road
- - - -
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Boxed sets

Year Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales threshold)
2008 The Journey Begins
  • Release date: 2008
  • Label: Quinlan Road
- - - -
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


Year Single Peak chart positions[28][29] Album
1991 "The Lady of Shalott" The Visit
"All Souls Night"
"Courtyard Lullaby"
1993 "Greensleeves"
1994 "The Bonny Swans" 75 The Mask and Mirror
"The Dark Night of the Soul"
1995 "The Mystic's Dream"
"God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" A Winter Garden: Five Songs for the Season
1997 "The Mummers' Dance" 10 18 23 14 The Book of Secrets
1998 "Marco Polo"
2006 "Caravanserai" An Ancient Muse
2007 "Penelope's Song"
2008 "The Seven Rejoices of Mary" A Midwinter's Night Dream
"Noël Nouvelet!"
2009 "Dante's Prayer" non-album single
"—" denotes releases that did not chart
"*" indicates unknown chart positions.


  • The Mummers' Dance (1997)
  • The Bonny Swans
  • Nights from the Alhambra (2007, Live concert in Spain premiered on PBS)[30]
  • A Moveable Musical Feast (2008, A tour documentary from Loreena's 2007 North American Tour)[30]


Quinlan Road label

Quinlan Road
Founded 1985
Founder Loreena McKennitt
Genre Folk, Celtic, world, new-age
Country of origin Canada
Official website .com.quinlanroadwww

Quinlan Road is an independent record label founded in 1985 and based in Stratford, Ontario, Canada. It is maintained by its sole artist, Loreena McKennitt. Quinlan Road started out at McKennitt's home where she sold recordings by mail order. Today Quinlan Road music is distributed internationally by Verve Records, Universal Music Group, Keltia Musique, and SPV GmbH.[31]

See also

  • Eileen McGann – fellow Irish-Canadian female Celtic folksinger. During McKennitt's early career McGann played many of the same venues, and they appeared together on several early compilation recordings.


  1. ^ "Loreena McKennitt". Retrieved March 2, 2011. 
  2. ^ Alex (December 13, 2010). "Folk Radio UK". Retrieved March 2, 2011. 
  3. ^ "About Us – Loreena McKinnett Introduces Herself". Quinlan Road. Retrieved March 2, 2011. 
  4. ^ If You Must, Label Her 'Enlightened' Pop music: Loreena McKennitt, who performs in Irvine tonight, sings ethereal material, but don't pigeonhole the harpist as New Age.", L.A. Times, November 29, 1994.
  5. ^ "Ever After Trailer". 
  6. ^ "American Christmas Carol Concert". September 14, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  7. ^ "The American Christmas Carol". Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Kate Winslet attends American Christmas Carol Concert". December 1, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Explore The Music – Live in Paris and Toronto". Quinlan Road. Retrieved March 2, 2011. 
  10. ^ Ms. Loreena McKennitt, Royal Canadian Air Force
  11. ^ Ms. Loreena McKennitt, Royal Canadian Air Force
  12. ^ Video on YouTube
  13. ^ Todd, Douglas (1996). Brave Souls: Writers and Artists Wrestle with God, Love, Death, and the Things That Matter. Toronto, Canada: Stoddard Publishing Co. Limited. p. 185.  
  14. ^ "Publicity-shy singer wins privacy claim". CBC News. December 21, 2005. Archived from the original on May 26, 2007. 
  15. ^ – 5 July 2008"Tinker Bell"Loreena sings theme song and narrates Disney’s . Retrieved March 2, 2011. 
  16. ^ "A Midwinter Night's Dream Loreena’s newest recording for the winter season set for release October 2008 – 7 October 2008". Retrieved March 2, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Tέλος Ιουνίου οι συναυλίες της Loreena McKennitt" (End of June Concerts Loreena McKennitt), (Greek)
  18. ^ "Loreena McKennitt – 1 December 2012". The West End Times. Retrieved May 29, 2015. 
  19. ^ a b c d "Loreena McKennitt Album History – Canadian Albums".  
  20. ^ a b c d e "RPM Results". Retrieved November 24, 2010. 
  21. ^ a b c d / PhonoNet GmbH. "Die ganze Musik im Internet: Charts, News, Neuerscheinungen, Tickets, Genres, Genresuche, Genrelexikon, Künstler-Suche, Musik-Suche, Track-Suche, Ticket-Suche". Retrieved March 2, 2011. 
  22. ^ a b c d "Loreena McKennitt Album Chart History – Billboard 200".  
  23. ^ "ABPD - certificados".  
  24. ^ a b c d e "CRIA album certifications".  
  25. ^ a b c "RIAA Gold & Platinum albums – Loreena McKennitt".  
  26. ^ a b "CAPIF– Discos de Oro y Platino".  
  27. ^ a b "Bundesverband Musikindustrie: Gold-/Platin-Datenbank - BETA". Retrieved March 2, 2011. 
  28. ^ "Billboard chart positions - singles".  
  29. ^ "RPM results". Retrieved November 24, 2010. 
  30. ^ a b "Explore The Music - Nights From The Alhambra". Quinlan Road. Retrieved March 2, 2011. 
  31. ^ Quinlan Road - About Us - Bio,

External links

  • Official website
  • Loreena McKennitt interview from the Echoes public radio show
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