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Loreena McKennitt

Loreena McKennitt
Loreena McKennitt
Loreena McKennitt live on stage
Loreena McKennitt live on stage

Loreena McKennitt, C.M., (b. February 17, 1957) is a Canadian singer, harpist and pianist who performs Celtic-style music with a new-age feel often compared to Enya, but more grounded in traditional and classical invocations using such literary works as "The Lady of Shalott" by Lord Tennyson, "Prospero's Speech", the final soliloquy in William Shakespeare's The Tempest, "Snow" by Archibald Lampman, William Blake's - Prologue, intended for a dramatic piece of King Edward the fourth - is used in Lullaby, and "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes as sources of lyrics and springboards for interpretation.


McKennitt was born in Morden, Manitoba of ethnic Irish and Scottish descent to parents Jack and Irene McKennitt.

McKennitt moved to Stratford, Ontario in 1981, where she still lives, and released her first album, Elemental, in 1985. She began to garner global attention with subsequent releases of self-produced work, including To Drive the Cold Winter Away (1987), Parallel Dreams (1989), The Visit (1991), The Mask and Mirror (1994), A Winter Garden (1995) and The Book of Secrets (1997). Her single Mummer's Dance was a widespread success, receiving considerable airplay in North American markets during spring 1997. All of her work has been released under her own label, Quinlan Road.

In 1995, her song Bonnie Portmore was prominently featured in one of the most famous Highlander episodes, Homeland, causing a large increase of her album sales.

Tragedy struck in 1998 when McKennitt's fiancé Ronald Rees and two others close to her drowned during a boating accident. She was deeply affected by the tragedy, founding the Cook-Rees Memorial Fund the same year, and releasing an album of two live performances called Live in Paris and Toronto, in which all of the profits were donated to the fund. Since then, McKennitt has released no new recordings and has only occasionally performed live.

In July 2004, Governor General Adrienne Clarkson made her a member of the Order of Canada, the most prestigious civilian honour in Canada.

In late 2004, fan hopes of a long-awaited re-emergence were buoyed by a rare concert appearance for the Yehudi Menuhin Foundation on December 7, 2004, at Brussels' Cirque Royal and notes on the Quinlan Road website about inspiration for new material. In addition, she performed at the Edmonton Folk Festival on August 4, 2005. McKennitt talked about research in Turkey and Greece, as well as China and Mongolia. In a recent Quinlan Road newsletter, she is quoted as writing, "I am presently in the thick of the research and writing phase for my next studio recording. All being well, I hope to be in the studio this year enjoying the creative companionship of some fine musicians."

In July of 2005, Loreena spent some time at Real World Studios, recording new songs for her next album. According to the Quinlan Road website, "We recorded three songs during this adventure and sketched out a few more." The recording session included collaborations between McKennitt and a musical band from Greece, along with other performers. According to her official website Loreena's new album will be released in the fall of 2006.



  • Elemental (1985)
  • To Drive the Cold Winter Away (1987)
  • Parallel Dreams (1989)
  • The Visit (1991)
  • The Mask and Mirror (1994)
  • The Book of Secrets (1997)
  • Live in Paris and Toronto (1999)

Shorter recordings

  • A Winter Garden: Five Songs for the Season (1995)
  • Live in San Francisco (1995)
  • Words and Music (1997)


  • "The Mummers' Dance" (1997) #18 US HOT 100
  • "Marco Polo" (1998)


  • "The Mummers' Dance" (1997)
  • "Bonny Swans"


  • No Journey's End (half-hour profile, aired on PBS; DVD)

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