Loreena McKennitt Biography
Born and raised in the small prairie community of Morden, Manitoba, Canada, McKennitt won the DuMaurier Search For Talent in 1978, represented her country that year at UNESCO in Paris and again in 1985 at Expo in Japan. In the 1980s, she moved to Stratford, Ontario - home of Canada's renowned Shakespeare Festival - and was featured in a number of festival productions including The Tempest (1982) and The Two Gentlemen Of Verona (1984) as an actor, singer and composer. In spring 2001, she returns to the Festival as composer for Richard Monette's production of The Merchant Of Venice.
In 1985, Loreena recorded her debut album, Elemental, and released it on her fledgling label, Quinlan Road, named for the rural road which ran past her farmhouse. Two more albums in 1987 and 1989 and a flourishing live performance career garnered increasing attention, and she signed a ground-breaking distribution deal with Warner Music Canada in 1991. Its first fruit, The Visit, would become an international success whose tally of gold and platinum certifications were exceeded only by The Mask And Mirror in 1994 and, to an even greater degree, the worldwide hit The Book Of Secrets.
The Book Of Secrets, recorded at Peter Gabriel's Real World Studios in Wiltshire, spawned the Billboard Top 20 single and MTV video hit "The Mummers' Dance", whose cross-format success at US radio was mirrored around the world. The album would go on to sell over four million copies worldwide. Like its two predecessors, the album topped the Billboard World Music chart en route to becoming that chart's most successful "crossover" album ever. It also debuted at #1 on the national album charts in Greece and Turkey, #3 in Canada, and reached the Top 10 in Italy, New Zealand and Germany, and the Top 20 in the United States, Spain and France.
McKennitt has twice been honoured with a Juno, the Canadian music industry's annual award. In 1997, she was also given Billboard's International Achievement Award. To date, she has received gold, platinum and multi-platinum certifications in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey.
She has composed music for, or had songs featured in, a wide range of films. Her credits include the National Film Board Of Canada's Women And Spirituality series and Jean-Claude Lauzon's Léolo, as well as Hollywood productions including Jade, Highlander III, The Holy Man, Soldier and The Santa Clause. Recently, she recorded a Spanish version of "Dante's Prayer" for use in A House With A View Of The Sea, a Canadian/Venezuelan co-production slated for release in 2001. Her work has also been featured in television series as diverse as Northern Exposure, Due South, Legacy, EZ Streets, Boston Public, Big Kevin Little Kevin and Strange Luck. A 1997 30-minute documentary about Loreena McKennitt and her music, No Journey's End, has been widely shown on public television in both the United States, and further afield.
In 1999, Loreena McKennitt released her most recent recording, Live In Paris And Toronto, a two-CD set recorded with her band at the Salle Pleyel and Massey Hall. A charitable project, the album raises funds for The Cook-Rees Memorial Fund For Water Search And Safety, a Canadian-based organisation founded by Loreena McKennitt and the families of Ronald and Richard Rees and Greg Cook after the three men perished in a boating accident in Georgian Bay in 1998.