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Loreena McKennitt

Loreena McKennitt, C.M., (b. February 17, 1957) is a Canadian singer, composer, harpist and pianist most famous for writing, recording and performing world music with a New-Age/Celtic feel.


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

McKennitt moved to Stratford, Ontario in 1981, where she still lives. She released her first album, Elemental, in 1985 and began to attract 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 "The Mummers' Dance" was a widespread success, receiving considerable airplay in North American markets during the spring of 1997. Her first full-length studio album in nine years, An Ancient Muse, was released in November 2006. All of her work has been released under her own label, Quinlan Road.

In 1993 her music became known to a wider audience when she toured Europe supporting Mike Oldfield.

In 1995 her version of the traditional Irish song "Bonny Portmore" was prominently featured in the film Highlander 3, causing a large increase of her album sales among fans of the films. Her music has also appeared on the movies Soldier, "The Mists of Avalon (TV miniseries)" and the television series Roar.

In 1998 McKennitt's fiancé Ronald Rees and two others close to her drowned during a boating accident. She was deeply affected by the event, founding the Cook-Rees Memorial Fund the same year and releasing an album of two live performances called Live in Paris and Toronto from which all of the profits were donated to the fund. After this McKennitt didn't release any new recordings and performed only rarely until 2006 when she released the studio album An Ancient Muse.

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

McKennitt's music has generally been classified as World/New Age/Celtic music even though it contains aspects and characteristics of music from around the globe and is classified as Folk music in some record stores.

Before McKennitt composes any music she engages in massive research on a specific subject which forms the general concept of the album. Before creating Elemental and Parallel Dreams she travelled to Ireland for inspiration from the country's history, folklore, geography and culture. The album The Mask and Mirror was preceded by research in Spain where she engaged in studying Galicia, a Celtic section of Spain, along with its abundant Arabic roots, thus creating an album including elements of Celtic and Arabic music.

According to the liner notes of her latest album, An Ancient Muse was inspired primarily by travels among and reading about the various cultures along the Silk Road.

McKennitt is often compared to Enya but her music is more grounded in traditional and classical invocations using literary works as sources of lyrics and springboards for interpretation such 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 "Prospero, intended for a dramatic piece of King Edward the fourth", and "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes.



  • Elemental (1985)
  • To Drive the Cold Winter Away (1987)
  • Parallel Dreams (1989)
  • The Visit (1991)
  • The Mask and Mirror (1994) US #143
  • The Book of Secrets (1997) US #17
  • Live in Paris and Toronto (1999)
  • An Ancient Muse (2006)

Shorter recordings

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


  • "All Souls Night" (1991)
  • "The Bonny Swans" (1995)
  • "The Mummers' Dance" (1997) #18 US HOT 100
  • "Marco Polo" (1998)
  • "Caravanserai" (2006)


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


  • No Journey’s End (half-hour profile, aired on PBS; DVD)
  • Heaven On Earth (TV Movie 1987 - Played Lady Traveler)