Sarah McLachlan

“All I can say is never say never.”

Sarah McLachlan, Canadian singer-songwriter, 1968-present 

Music legend Sarah McLachlan has won three Grammy Awards, twelve Juno Awards, and has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. She co-founded Lilith Fair, the all-female Woodstock for a generation of women, and is credited with launching the careers of many female musicians. Just as impressively, she founded the non-profit Sarah McLachlan School of Music in Vancouver to provide free, professional vocal and music training for at-risk and underserved children and youth. She is most well-known for emotional ballads, “Angel,” “I Will Remember You,” and “Sweet Surrender.” Her album Surfacing went 10 times platinum in 1997. Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC has credited McLachlan’s “Angel” with saving him from suicide, and the two later collaborated. “Angel” is also the song that McLachlan says “sums me up.”

McLachlan grew up in Halifax, where her high school yearbook predicted she would become a famous rock star. Still, McLachlan says she was unpopular and was picked on, but that music helped build her self-worth and courage. Her first song was called “Out of the Shadows” for her inaugural album, Touch, when she was 19 years old. Visionary Network Records, then a small indie label, had brought her to Vancouver, signed her, and encouraged her to write her own songs. Also an activist, she made a documentary on child prostitution and poverty in Cambodia when she was just 22.  

Following the success of 1997s Surfacing, for which she won two Grammy Awards and four Juno Awards, McLachlan was the headliner and co-founder, with her manager, of Lilith Fair, a ground-breaking all-female concert and touring music festival. It was the summer’s hottest ticket from 1997 to 1999. More than two million people attended, and it raised $7 million for women’s charities in Canada. Taking a stand against the male-dominated music industry was a bold move at the time, and one that still resonates today. 

McLachlan’s follow-up album was the acclaimed “Fumbling Toward Ecstasy,” which made her an international star. Still, she lived in a penthouse apartment in Vancouver’s South Granville neighbourhood, where neighbours could hear her jamming. She married Ashwin Sood, who was the drummer in her band, in a Tofino wedding, and they had two daughters. They split amicably 13 years later. 

In 2014 McLachlan released her seventh studio album, Shine On, which received a Juno Award for Adult Contemporary Album of the Year. She hosted the Juno Awards in 2019, performing with graduate students from her School of Music. McLachlan is currently writing songs for her next album.


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