Biography

Member of CAB Hall of Fame

McLachlan, Sarah

(1968- )

Sarah McLachlan was born on January 28th 1968, in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
At the age of 5, after having her first musical experiments with a ukulele, she began taking vocal training, as well as piano and guitar lessons.  In her teens, while attending Queen Elizabeth High School in Halifax, and later the Nova Scotia College of Art and  Design, she fronted a new wave band, October Game. It was following a concert by the group at Dalhousie University that she was approached by Nettwerk Records with the offer of a recording contract. Though tempted, she was persuaded by her parents to complete her studies at NSCAD, but in 1987 she signed with Nettwerk, and relocated to Vancouver where the recording company was based.

Though she had not written any songs for publication prior to joining Nettwerk, her first CD, Touch, which was issued in 1988, consisted entirely of songs she had written or co-written, including her own song Vox, which became a major hit, and was released as a single.  The album itself eventually went gold in Canada, and was distributed internationally by Arista in 1989. In the same year she toured Canada as the opening act for the group Grapes of Wrath.
Her next CD, issued in 1991, was titled Solace, and its content showed the growth and maturity of her work, and with it came her breakthrough beyond the cult following she had attracted thus far. After touring to promote Solace, Sarah went to Cambodia and Thailand with fellow Vancouver performer Terry David Mulligan, to work on a documentary on poverty, hunger and child prostitution, for World Vision.


On return, and inspired by what she had seen, she retired from the public eye to write material for her next CD, Fumbling Toward Ecstasy, which was released in late 1993, and received major airplay on radio stations across the country.  The album peaked in the U.S. charts at #50, and had reached platinum status by the end of 1994, after 62 weeks on the charts. Her next album, Surfacing, was released in 1997 and sold over 1,000,000 copies in Canada.


In 1996, frustrated by what she perceived as a sexist bias on the part of concert promoters and radio stations, Sarah herself booked a tour with Paula Cole. She first used Lilith Fair as the title of a concert in her home town of Israel, B.C., which in addition to Paula Cole featured Lisa Loeb and Michelle McAdorey, and the following year, 1997, she launched the Lilith Fair Tour, featuring all women performers. The name came from the legend that Lilith was the name of Adam’s first wife, and Fair was chosen to reflect the image of the performers.  This tour ran for three years, with a dollar from each ticket sold being given to women’s charities in the communities where Lilith played, and the three tours raised more than $7,000,000 for charity.


Over the next few years, Sarah took a break from concert tours and CD recordings, apart from occasional guest appearances.  She returned to public life in 2003 with the release of a new album, Afterglow, which was followed by a  CD/DVD, Afterglow Live. In January 2005 she was one of the headliners in One World: The Concert for Tsunami Relief, a benefit concert in Vancouver that also starred Bryan Adams and Avril Lavigne and was broadcast on CTV; she also participated in an NBC tsunami-relief telethon.  She continued to tour through 2005, and sang her hit Angel with Josh Groban in the Philadelphia Live 8 concert promoted by Bob Geldof.


Sarah McLachlan has won eight Juno Awards, including Female Vocalist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year, Single of the Year (Building a Mystery) and Album of the year (for Surfacing) in 1998, and Pop Album of the Year (for Afterglow) in 2004.  She has won three Grammy Awards:  Best Female Pop Vocal for Building a Mystery (1997) the same award for I Will Remember You in 1999, and Best Pop Instrumental Performance in 1997 for Last Dance.


Her Lilith Fair efforts earned her the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Visionary Award in 1998 “for advancing the careers of women in music”.  In 1999 she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, in recognition both of her contributions to Canadian music and her extensive work for women’s charities, and in 2001 she was made a member of the Order of British Columbia  for her outstanding achievements as musician, singer and songwriter.  She also founded an outreach program to provide music education for inner city children in Vancouver; it was so successful that in May 2007, the B.C. Government awarded a $500,000 grant to Sarah to further expand her Music Outreach program.

In November 2006, Sarah McLachlan was inducted into the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame in the Canadian Music Star Category.

 

Written by Pip Wedge - October, 2006

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