Sarah McLachlan

Born: 1968, Halifax
Debut: 1988
Genre: Pop, New Wave, Adult Contemporary


• Has sold 40 million records worldwide
• Diamond Album (Surfacing)
• All studio albums Platinum or higher
• 13 Top 40 Singles, including eight Top 10′s, and one #1
• The #1 song of the year in 1997 (“Building a Mystery”)
• 8 JUNO Awards

Major Juno Awards

• Song of the Year, 1998 (“Building a Mystery”)
• Album of the Year, 1998 (Surfacing)
• Female Artist of the Year, 1998

Studio Albums and Hit Singles

1988: Touch

• Platinum

1991: Solace

• 2x Platinum
• Hit Singles: “The Path of Thorns” (#24 WP), “Into the Fire” (#30 WP)

1993: Fumbling Towards Ecstasy

• 5x Platinum
• Hit Singles: “Possession” (#27 WP), “Good Enough” (#15 WP; #78 YE)

1997: Surfacing

• Diamond
• Hit Singles: “Building a Mystery” (#1 WP; #1 YE), “Sweet Surrender” (#3 WP; #78 YE), “Adia” (#3 WP; n/a YE), “Angel” (#9 WP; #48 YE)

2003: Afterglow

• 5x Platinum
• Hit Singles: “Fallen” (#9 WP)

2010: Laws of Illusion

2014: Shine On

Sarah McLachlan - Shine On

• Billboard Canada #1 album

Some Other Albums and Hit Singles

• “I Will Remember You” from The Brothers McMullen Soundtrack (WP #10; YE #67)
• “I Will Remember You” (Live) from Mirrorball (WP #10; YE #63)
• “Ice Cream” from Mirrorball (WP #10; YE #67)
• Live Album Mirrorball Certified 5x Platinum
• “U Want Me 2” from Closer: The Best of Sarah McLachlan (WP #11)

In the long line of Anglophone Canadian female pop superstars that began with Alannah, Celine, and Jann, Sarah was next. Her rise to fame was gradual but steady. She has now sold over 40 million records worldwide.

Sarah McLachlan was born in Halifax in 1968 and grew up there. She was adopted as a child. She took voice lessons at the Nova Scotia Conservatory of Music and studied piano and classical guitar. In senior high school she joined the new wave band October Game. They were able to record a song called “Grind”. The band was able to open for Vancouver’s electronic band Moev at Dalhousie University. Mark Jowett of the band was impressed enough with Sarah to introduce her to Vancouver’s Nettwork Records. Her adoptive parents insisted she first finish high school and take some college courses before she moved to Vancouver in 1987 to sign a recording contract.

The following year, McLachlan’s debut album, Touch, appeared. Critics compared her ethereal style to Enya, Kate Bush, and Tori Amos. The album produced no significant hit single. Sarah began a long-term partnership with Daniel Lanois protégé Pierre Marchand who was to produce her next albums and co-write a few of the songs. She broke through into the mainstream with 1991’s Solace and its Top 30 hits “Path of Thorns” and “Into the Fire”. The album went 2x Platinum.

Her third album, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, included new wave hit “Possession” and her first Top 20 hit “Good Enough”. The album was a big success, selling 5x Platinum despite being largely ignored by mainstream radio. A live version of “Ice Cream” was later released and was a Top 10 hit. McLachlan contributed her song “I Will Remember You” to the motion picture The Brothers McMullen. It was her first Top 10 single and her first to receive generous radio airplay. A live version of the song matched the chart position four years later.

McLachlan was frustrated by the tendency of both radio stations’ and concert promoters’ refusal to feature two female artists back to back. And she began realizing her idea of organizing an all-female music festival. It was named after Jewish folklore of Adam rejecting his first wife Lilith for refusing to be submissive. On September 14th 1996, Sarah performed in Halifax with Paula Cole, Lisa Loeb, and Crash Vegas’ Michelle McAdorey, a concert that was named “Lilith Fair”.

1997 was the year that belonged to Sarah McLachlan. She had the #1 song of the year, “Building a Mystery” which won the Juno. She was named female artist of the year and her album Surfacing, a diamond-seller, won the Album of the Year award. The album, which sold 11 million copies worldwide, spawned three additional Top 10 hits including “Angel” which was included on the City of Angels soundtrack. She married her Calgarian drummer Ashwin Sood this year and now has two children. The couple split in 2008.

The first formal Lilith Fair tour began in 1997 and ran for three summers leading up to the new millennium. The first Lilith Fair festival concert tour was the most successful of the year, earning $16.4 million from 37 concerts. A portion of the earnings were donated to charities. Participants included Fiona Apple, Tracy Chapman, Paula Cole, Sheryl Crow, Jewel, and Suzanne Vega. The following year, Lilith Fair was extended to Europe and a total of 47 cities. Participants included Sinéad O’Connor, Chantal Kreviazuk, Diana Krall, and Bonnie Raitt. Participants in the 1999 festival included The Pretenders, Dixie Chicks, and Deborah Cox. A new Lilith Fair tour was launched in 2010 but ran into problems with cancellations and low ticket sales in some cities. McLachlan announced that times had changed and there would be no further tours.

In 1999, Sarah released the live album Mirrorball which went 5x Platinum and produced a couple of hit singles. She took an extended break from major recordings and tours in the new millennium. 2003 saw the release of Afterglow which sold half a million copies and spawned the Top 10 hit “Fallen”. Three years later, she released a Christmas album entitled Wintersong. She recorded the song “Ordinary Miracle” for the animated feature film Charlotte’s Web and performed it at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. Her album, Laws of Illusion, appeared that year. She opened the Sarah McLachlan School of Music in 2011 offering free programs for at-risk youth.  In 2014, she topped the Billboard Canadian Albums chart with album Shine On. Sarah released her second Christmas album, Wonderland, in 2016 which by the end of the year had gone gold.

McLachlan is an avid surfer, therefore often hanging out in Tofino, BC.

               Copyright 2011 by the Canadian Music Blog