In-depth Biography The daughter of a nurse mother and a livestock trader father, songstress Loreena McKennitt studied classical piano and vocal training 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. Distributed through a network of small, independent distributors, the album sold more than 40 thousand 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 (Canada's equivalent of the Grammy), 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. McKennitt's 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.
During 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, received the Order of Canada. Two years later, McKennitt began work on her seventh studio album, Ancient Muse, which was released in 2006. ~ Craig Harris, All Music Guide