Sarah McLachlan was born on January 28, 1968, and adopted in
Halifax, Nova Scotia. As a child, she took voice lessons, along with studies in
classical piano and guitar. When she was just 17 years old, and still a student
at Queen Elizabeth High School, she fronted a short-lived rock band called "The
October Game". Her high school yearbook claimed that she was "destined to become
a famous rock star."
Following The October Game's first concert at Dalhousie University, McLachlan was offered a recording contract with Vancouver based independent record label Nettwerk. McLachlan's parents convinced her to finish her studies at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design before embarking on a new life as a recording artist. Interestingly, the world famous singer songwriter was actually signed to Nettwerk before having written a single song.
The signing prompted Sarah McLachlan to move to Vancouver, British Columbia. There she recorded the first of her albums, Touch, in 1988, which received both critical and commercial success and included the hit song "Vox". During this period she also contributed to an album by Moev, and embarked on her first national concert tour as an opening act for The Grapes of Wrath.
Sarah McLachlan's 1991 album, Solace, was her mainstream breakthrough in Canada, spawning the hit singles "The Path of Thorns (Terms)" and "Into the Fire".
1993's Fumbling Towards Ecstasy was an immediate smash hit in Canada. From her Nettwerk connection, her piano version of the song Possession was included on the first Due South television series soundtrack in 1996. Over the next two years, Fumbling Towards Ecstasy quietly became McLachlan's international breakthrough as well, scaling the charts in a number of countries and setting the stage for 1997's Surfacing, which debuted at the top of the charts amid the hype around Lilith Fair. The McLachlan-founded Lilith Fair tour brought together 2 million people over its three-year history and raised more than $7 million for charities. It was the most successful all-female music festival in history, one of the biggest music festivals of the 1990s, and helped launch the careers of several well-known female artists.
Sarah McLachlan has been extensively profiled by media including cover stories for Rolling Stone, Time magazine and Entertainment Weekly. She was awarded the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Visionary Award in 1998 for advancing the careers of women in music.
On February 7, 1997, she married Ashwin Sood, her longtime drummer, in Negril, Jamaica. Lilith Fair debuted in Vancouver that same year, after which McLachlan began an extended period away from recording or touring. She did, however, participate in the 2002 British Columbia Cancer Foundation Benefit Concert in memory of cancer victim Michele Bourbonnais. She participated along with four other Canadian artists, Bryan Adams, Jann Arden, Barenaked Ladies, and Chantal Kreviazuk.
Known for the emotional sound of her ballads, some of Sarah McLachlan's popular songs include "Angel", "Building a Mystery", "Adia", "Possession", "I Will Remember You" and "Into the Fire". Her best-selling album to date is Surfacing, for which she won multiple Grammy Awards and four Juno Awards (Canada's equivalent to the Grammy's). Through her career, she has also received many other awards, primarily in recognition of her efforts in launching Lilith Fair. In 1999, she was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada in recognition of her successful recording career, her role in Lilith Fair, and the charitable donations she made to women's shelters across Canada. McLachlan also funds an outreach program in Vancouver that provides music education for inner city children. In 2001, she was awarded the Order of British Columbia.
During Sarah McLachlan's hiatus in her recording career, she lost her mother to cancer in December 2001, while McLachlan herself was pregnant. McLachlan gave birth to a daughter named India on April 6, 2002, in Vancouver. McLachlan had already completed three-quarters of the Afterglow record production. In May 2002, her duet with Bryan Adams was released on the Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron soundtrack. She sang harmonies and played the piano on the song "Don't Let Go" while Ashwin Sood did the drum work.
In early 2005 McLachlan took part in a star-studded tsunami disaster relief telethon on NBC. On January 29 McLachlan was a headliner for a benefit concert in Vancouver along with other Canadian superstars such as Avril Lavigne and Bryan Adams. The show also featured a performance by the Sarah McLachlan Musical Outreach Choir & Percussion Ensemble, a children's choir and percussion band from the aforementioned Vancouver outreach program. The concert was titled One World: The Concert for Tsunami Relief, and raised approximately $3.6 million for several Canadian aid agencies working in south and southeast Asia. The show was the brainchild of Sarah McLachlan's manager, Terry McBride, CEO of Nettwerk. It ran for four hours and aired live on CTV across Canada.
On July 2, 2005, Sarah McLachlan participated in the Philadelphia installment of the Live 8 concerts, where she performed her hit "Angel" with Josh Groban. These concerts, which were held simultaneously in nine major cities around the world, were intended to coincide with the G8 summit to put pressure on the leaders of the world's richest nations to fight poverty in Africa by increasing aid.
On a number of occasions, Sarah McLachlan has also found herself in the news for other reasons:
In 1994, Sarah McLachlan was sued by Uwe Vandrei, an obsessed fan from Ottawa, Ontario, who alleged that his letters to her had been the basis of her hit single "Possession". This lawsuit never came to trial, however, as the plaintiff was found dead in an "apparent" suicide before the trial began. The lawsuit was also challenging for the Canadian legal system. This topic was explored in length in Canadian author Judith Fitzgerald's book, Building A Mystery: The Story of Sarah McLaclan & Lilith Fair.
In 1998, Sarah McLachlan found herself vicariously connected to the Monica Lewinsky scandal surrounding former U.S. President Bill Clinton, when her song "Do What You Have to Do" was cited in Kenneth Starr's report as the subject of a letter from Lewinsky to Clinton.
Finally, in 1999, McLachlan and Nettwerk were sued by Darryl Neudorf, a Vancouver musician (and onetime member of 54-40) who alleged that he had made a significant and un-credited contribution to the songwriting on Touch. The judge in this suit ultimately ruled in McLachlan's favour.
McLachlan's song "The Path of Thorns" was the 50 millionth song downloaded
from Apple's iTunes Music Store. Sarah McLachlan has also sold an
estimated 30 million albums world wide. After McLachlan's 2005 tour she plans to
take another hiatus and have another baby.
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