Internationally acclaimed Canadian singer/composer Loreena McKennitt began her musical career by busking with her harp and started running her own record label, Quinlan Road, from her kitchen table.
Now, more than two decades later, Manitoba-born McKennitt has seen her “eclectic Celtic” blend of pop, folk and world music span more than a dozen recordings, three DVDs and a new collection of studio and live recordings. They have gone on to sell more than 14 million copies worldwide and achieve gold, platinum and multi-platinum status in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, Chile,Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Turkey. Her recordings have also appeared on dozens of compilation albums.
Her most recent recording, a collection of mostly traditional Celtic material, was a return to her early roots.Recorded in a former Quaker temple north of Toronto, The Wind that Shakes the Barley was recorded "live off the floor" — and was certainly a contrast to her previous release, A Mediterranean Odyssey, the 2009 album of performances inspired by the tones, textures and rich cultural heritage of the Mediterranean.
Other recordings include A Midwinter Night’s Dream, recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios, which was released in the fall of 2008 and featured a collection of seasonal music as seen through McKennitt’s broad lens of influences ranging from Celtic to classical to Middle Eastern. This, in turn, followed the limited release of the tour documentary A Moveable Musical Feast which was shot during her 2007 international tour. McKennitt had Top 20 Billboard single and album success with the 1997 hit album The Book of Secrets and its chart-breaking lead track “The Mummers’ Dance.”
Her first recording, Elemental, was released in 1985 and originally only available on cassette; it was made with a minimal budget, and continues to be be one of the most popular recordings in McKennitt's catalogue.
McKennitt's tours have taken her around the world, with performances for such dignitaries as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip.
As a composer, she has written music for productions at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario and the National Film Board of Canada; she also has three feature-length film scores to her credit and has contributed toseveral soundtracks for both film and television, the most recent being Disney’s fall 2008 DVD
release Tinker Bell.
In 2007, McKennitt was nominated for a Grammy Award and was the recipient of a North American Folk Alliance Award. She has also won two Junos, Canada’s premier music award, in addition to a Billboard International Achievement Award.
As founder of The Cook-Rees Memorial Fund for Water Search and Safety, she has been recognized for her civic and community service, raising nearly four million dollars through the sale of Live in Paris and Toronto to advance water safety education and research. McKennitt has also established The Three Oaks Foundation, a fund which supports cultural, environmental, historical and family groups.
Her extensive charitable and community work has seen her awarded the Order of Canada, the Order of Manitoba and honorary doctorates from the University of Manitoba, Wilfrid Laurier University and Queen’s University. In 2006 she assumed the role of Honorary Colonel for 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron of the
Canadian Air Force.
McKennitt has lived in Stratford, Ontario, since 1981 and is an active member of her community.