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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


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


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

9. Never-Ending Road (Amhran Duit)


Track List: The Book Of Secrets

1. Prologue

2. The Mummer's Dance

3. Skellig

4. Marco Polo

6. La Serenissima

7. Night Ride Across The Caucasus

8. Dante's Prayer


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


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


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


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


Track List: A Winter Garden

1. Coventry Carol

2. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

3. Good King Wenceslas

4. Snow

5. Seeds Of Love


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


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I relate 100 percent
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U c'mon YOU got this bra
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By and large the most exquisitely composed and performed music of its genre. McKennitt lends the true ear and musical prowess to each and every masterpiece, weaving timeless tales into songs that can, at one point, sweep one into happiness yet rend tears of sorrow at the next. Well worth more than just a listen, I recommend buying each and every piece into a collection one will never regret having.
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I 've never heard music so beautiful as this. Mesmerizing!
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I listen to a lot of music—I've seen Loreena live twice—few, if any, do music like this. Words cannot describe.
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One of the best artists in the world
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Haunting. (Look at my profile, especially Christian girls.)
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Raglan Road on Nights from the Alhambra brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it . She is wonderful.
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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 as a good as her recorded songs!
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Ghostly phantoms divided in two's; coalesce from depths of shaded moon. clinging so to thicken airs, the visions once accounted fair. for these seasons mired in such ancient finds; taking dare on unwary travelers, their nightly affairs when dusk arrives. awaiting those of so inquisitive eye; to befall without caution surprised encounters of an unearthly design. in quest for all things possible, delighted amid ancient shrines. before breaking across hidden skies; the hails of a new day do arise.
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By opening up, by a self-offerin g and self-dedicat i o n to the Divine Shakti, our throat chakra opens up and is surrendered to the Divine for subtilisatio n and transformati o n . Finally, as our head or crown chakra opens, ascent is followed by descent, thus our vital - physical - mental lower nature is gradually transformed, supramentali s e d . In this Path of Purification , greed, hatred, sloth, torpor are converted to profound love - faith - productivene s s - goodwill - creative harmony.
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The music was like I was in a dream. such beautiful music!������
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Calling us to remember....
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When I first heard the murmmur's dance, I bought all of her albums. She has a wonderful voice. Good to hear all day.
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my new place to go, wonderful - different - dreamlike - Loreena
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Upon the highest lay that witch only those whom Destiny gave chance for immortality to take everything if they risk any and all things to have remembrance by the steps on who's shoulders they stood. Getting there before loosing life in that persute and crossing this void into nonexistence
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Absolutely my all time favorite piece of music. Ever... Enchanting.. .
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Lowers my blood pressure 50 points
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I would love to see her live
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Such an enchantress
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She's even better live!
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Her Album Book of Secrets sent me to an spiritual journey beyond words... I have been a fan since.
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Love her music but then again I love celtic music
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Books of ancient design welcomes no peace to an enlighten mind printed by scribe only for privileged eye when archaic thoughts written in evil times lecture's secrets not meant to find of visions forever lost from display such truths denied sacred say in their day to tell forbidden tales as those unfortunate few who stumble upon blasphemous room vanish into the gates of hell never to speak of things hidden so well keeping those under veil saturated in sin as dust covers forgotten space within
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I love this it is so nice and colm��������
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lovely voice :)
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How do you put it into word's? Michael
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Put me in whole different world
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Agreed. Loreena can sing without studio wizardry and without the accompanimen t of instruments. Her voice is truly angelic.
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She's great! All Soul's Night, Mummer's Dance, Marco Polo, Mystic Dream, Prologue, on and on
She is one of the very few whose live performances are as a good as her recorded songs!
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She is ancient Priestess, come again to cast her spells and enchant us all.
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I found Loreena via Pandora -- her music makes a great background while I work.
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Have loved her music for years....and the love of her melodies continues. Soothing, ethereal, and it must be the Scotch-Irish ancestry in the u l y gorgeous!
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Loreena is my utmost favorite singer she rekindled my love of music I listened to as a young girl she truly is a wonderful artist working with all these places she really brings the worlds music to me I can feel the story's she tells through her music absolutely amazing brings me joy I listen to her daily ... Thank you Loreena
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Wow @Loreena is from outer space! #unbelievabl e
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There are no words in any language to describe the utter grandeur of feeling and emotion Loreena achieves in her music. Along with Enya and some Enigma songs or Fever Ray... The level of human achievement is at its greatest and makes life...LIFE. Thank you.
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I had the great privelidge and honor to attend her concert in 2012 in the Knox Church in her home town, of Stratford, Ontario. I have never been the same since
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The more I listen, the more I listen long. Archaic memories linger and I become other than.
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As a person trying to reign in manic rage and deep depression during a horrible divorce I found Loreena's voice and music could calm me and take me away from feeling troubled while I listened to her sing. Such a beautiful voice! Years later I'm much better but her songs never fail to move me to a better place anyway!
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I love this kind of music. Her and Enya & Lisa Gerrard touches my soul and spirit.
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Above the below carries sound to and fro; as ancient chants muse across rivers bound, lovely thoughts linger before ports are found; anchored outside docks of sky. float commerce made from fancies high; listening to careless voices given to song dreams tinged with color pass the day along. as their memories drift away on falling tide. to set sail casting sights ahead for better domain by newer finds. while sterns break waves coalesced from wanton sigh and hopes lay forever true to opened eyes.
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Your music does my sprit good, thank you.
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Please, come to Dallas, Texas!
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There is something hauntingly familiar with her voice and arrangements . Her talent and music transends all earthly bounds and harkens to our souls. I am grateful I have listened and enjoyed all that she has to share.
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Between lines of shadow conjure ever changing tiffs forming the divine light of darkness within secret hollows to follow descent in accord where such words score as from edge of pagan sword while life's foison entwine with pseudo belief gone questioning the why as spirits arrive seeking rest so longed in days without sagacity beyond realm clinging as a child to mother's helm before breaking away to drift towards the grave that unholy worlds caste without save looking for some worth in what lay
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I love every song she ever made butt my siblings HATE IT!!?? I don't know how but I have been blasting it in their ears whenever I can. I think it's working
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Rarely is heard an artist who captivates with vocals, musical arrangement, and originality. Her haunting vocals and stage presence are hard to equal. Despite listening to her for years I never get tired of her artistry.
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This hauntingly beautiful music invigorated my spirit, taking me back to a familiar memory that goes beyond logic or rational.
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The passion of twilight's midnight all souls dance entranced & bring to light the dark of night to gaelic sounds stirring all around passing the days journey in sway by the winds play & every creature phantomed comes to the phantasm lively singing the praise giving into haze & mystic gaze while imagined beings dared dreaming hold each other in soft somber to reach a greater state until the season is late & every whelm is fulfilled before the end date so lust & desire is satisfied in lasting take
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