Loreena McKennitt Gets Back To Basics


Loreena McKennitt Approved Photo
Now more than three decades into her career as a groundbreaking, genre-bending artist, Canada’s Loreena McKennitt is not afraid to take chances.

She will bring her unique blend of Celtic folk, new age, and internationally-inspired music to Moncton’s Capitol Theatre on Thursday night. It is one of five she is playing throughout Atlantic Canada that will feature the multi-instrumentalist accompanied by long-time collaborators, Brian Hughes and Caroline Lavelle.

She admits her upcoming dates mark a notable change from the introspectively lush sound that has helped her sell more than 14 million albums worldwide, but this approach has also helped serve to bring her full circle.

“Rather than trying to re-arrange a host of songs to fit the trio format, putting the trio performances together has been about curating material that could suit this format,” McKennitt begins. “The material featured during the course of the performance tends to be more from the traditional realm and are also a little simpler in terms of arrangement.

“The concert setup is not necessarily conducive to including some of the Eastern and Middle Easter influences that people might be family with in my music, but the focus of these trio shows is very much about getting back to the roots of my career. I have always had people tell me they like the simplicity of my earlier work. The trio format also lets me focus a little more heavily upon the story aspect of my material.”

McKennitt has been the subject of worldwide critical acclaim for her catalogue, including seven studio recordings, three seasonal albums, and a live DVD, in addition to a pair of DVD documentaries.

Thus far, her music career has been the stuff that storybooks are made of.

Growing up in rural Manitoba as the daughter of a livestock dealer, music initially played a small role in her life. It was as she got older that she feels music chose her, as opposed to her choosing to move into music.

“I did study music and participated as a member of a children’s choir when I was younger. I would say the definitive turning point for me was hearing Baroque music while I was in high school. I hadn’t heard anything like that before, but it was something that I felt instantly attracted to. When I moved to Winnipeg, I became involved in a folk-music club, at which point I was introduced into Celtic modalities, which ended up being something else that I immediately liked as well.”

Music had enthralled McKennitt to the point that she eventually abandoned her plans to become a veterinarian. It proved to be a prophetic decision.

Undoubtedly one of the most gratifying aspects of her storied career is the fact that McKennitt has achieved her remarkable success as an independent artist.

After having moved from Manitoba to Stratford, Ont. in 1981, McKennitt established her own record label, Quinlan Road, and began selling her recordings via mail order.

“I decided early on that if my future was going to be tied into performing original songs or interpreting traditional material, it was going to be created and inspired by myself without outside influences,” she says.

“I actually believe my disposition to be an independent artist stems largely from my upbringing. I grew up on a farm in a rural community, and knew that I was happiest where I could do things for myself.”

Not everyone in the music industry shared her enthusiasm of being an independent artist, however.

“Every time I went to Los Angeles for business, the label was quite fixated with getting me lined up with a ‘traditional’ manager. The thing was, however, I didn’t need a manager for all aspects of my career. I had already established my own business, and was financing my own recordings and tours. Ideally, I had been looking for someone that could give me guidance in marketing and promotion of my work, specifically in the U.S. I remember the last such meeting I had, the manager laughed and told me that if I thought they were going to work for me in that kind of capacity, I had another thing coming.”

McKennitt acknowledges that had she heeded the advice of others and got herself “proper” management, she might have found even more in the way of global success. As it stands however, she knows that she has little to complain about:

“The success and fortune I have had is beyond gratifying, especially because it is something that you cannot plan on happening. As a musician, you can only hope that what you are doing has sufficient meaning to your fan base that they want to stay connected to you.”

What: Loreena McKennitt
When: Thursday Oct. 8, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Capitol Theatre, 811 Main St., Moncton
Tickets start at $64 plus service charge. Advance tickets are available at the Capitol Theatre Box Office, by phone at (506) 856-4379 and online at capitol.nb.ca