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Influential Musicians : Loreena Mc Kennitt - An Introspective Biography

It doesn't seem strange that a Canadian farmer's daughter living in Morden, Manitoba, wished to be a veterinarian. The eagerness of young Loreena's musical parallel quenched in conservatories, opera singing, and piano studies, built up a formal scheme that would burst into adulthood within the root of traditional music. This approach was the result of her attendances at a local folk center where, according to her own confessions, she was influenced by bands like Bothy Band, Planxty, Steeleye Span and Pentangle. The Celtic Harp ethereal spell of her ancestors was in charge of Breton musician Alan Stivell, whose music she used to listen to all night long on an endless tape specially built up for an uninterrupted listening.

Being a Shakespearean actress in the '80s she afterwards assumes the role of an itinerant minstrel. performing her first work "Elemental" on cassette, produced with a lawn from her parents. A work that turned out to be her version of classic traditional tunes in his own seal. Her search for Celtic roots took the grain to sell 60,000 copies since the first one up to over half a million with her album "The Visit" under distribution agreement with Warner Music.

Since I follow Loreena for years now, I firmly believe she is a romantic styled composer and musician. Part of the magic lies in her apparent Elizabethan image , sometimes Welsh or Breton, not only on stage or on CD covers but in its daily walk, as well as musical dramatization of the classic poets.

Sometimes I imagined her wandering through the woods or at the foot of cliffs as a capti
vating fairy queen, far from that redhead of Irish blood who contracts the Warner.

Although Loreena acknowledges she would not like to have lived four or five centuries ago, she is highly interested on the rescue of Romanticism from lost civilizations and accomplishments of the current. Druidess which cultivates modern metaphorical power of nature and animals.

Loreena once stated for the Spanish magazine Cambio 16: "Theater influences my music, but music also influences the theater. The structure of a dramatic piece sometimes has allowed me to give a dramatic structure to a song. One of the things I've moved from theater to my concerts is that the test of a work gives you the feeling that every time it is a new piece. On one occasion, playing a song my father died and the feeling was very different despite I had sung that song a thousand times. "


Let is quote that her father, Jack McKennitt, died in 1992 one week before her daughter appeared in duo with cellist Ofra Harnoy in the Juno Awards, consecrating "The Visit" as the Best Album of Traditional Roots. But to the surprise of many, Loreena was not born in
either Ireland or in Stratford, Ontario, but in the southern plains of Manitoba, in the town of Morden.
Her mother Irene who still lives there, remembers: "We were so excited when she was born ... Warren, our son is three years older, and then came the girl with red hair like his father. We had family in California who we told of a little girl named Loreena. And it seemed to rhyme with McKennitt."

Traditional Dances of Scotland were the strongest of Loreena as a child, but paradoxically a car accident on Sunday, culminating with her legs in casts. Her grandmother would send the family piano to her and Loreena start her music lessons. With five years old ,said goodbye to the dance.
She studied classical piano until fifteen and lyrical chant till ten. Her first teacher, Olga Friesen, who directed the Child Choir of Morden, tells us: "She knows very well her own voice. Has evolved, but retains the same positive purity. If she comes into my restaurant I would say: sing to me. "

During primary school Loreena always had troubles: "I was playing sports and playing music in my own willful and creative style. But I felt different ... I wasn't the same kind of sociable creature like most girls of my age. Due to this sense of early maturity, spent more time with my gym teachers. "


She used to share with them philosophy, piano and nature. By those days her parents made him join a school for girls in Winnipeg.

Anxious to be a veterinarian, Loreena discovered the Winnipeg Folk Festival as a basis for her development, leaving a little chance to the University of Manitoba. When everyone was at the Disco, Winnipeg was the center of folk music by 1975, and there was Loreena. But almost in the '80s, the folk boom declined, and her relationship with an actor would lead her to Stratford.
Se could act, write music, but was still like "a singer in search of a song", till 1982 when she decided to travel to Ireland. But why Ireland?

The McKennitts came to Canada from Donegal in 1830, her mother's branch, the Dickeys, came from Belfast. But Loreena was eager to seek the "Romantic Ireland" as the saying o
f Yeats. It would take two years and a trip to England to meet the Celtic harp and learn it by herself, but the trip to Ireland would be her starting point, its magic, and endemic melancholy .
Irish Born with 24 years. "Until 1985, I worked in theater in Stratford, but I realized thatin order to grow musically I needed to have my own recording. I did not know anything related to the record world, nor editing, and by chance I came across a book "How to Make and Sell Your Own Recording" (The Complete Guide to Independent Recording) by Diane S. Rapaport which became my Bible.
I borrowed ten thousand dollars to my family, a lot of money for them, and I embarked on my own. " Lately, due to it's success the book was published with Loreena's own foreword.

With street sales of cassettes and mail order, solo concerts were launched and granted her to accumulate enough money for a second album in 1987 and a third in 1989. Mc Kennitt sat to negotiate with Warner Music. Her lawyer Graham Henderson (with other clients such as Cowboy Junkies, Crash, Test, Dummies and Holly Cole) explains that "with sales of Parallel Dreams in thirty thousand copies and concerts filled the Warner Loreena question was' what can you do for me '. " Warner accepts the distribution of her album The Visit in 1991 and some others. "The structure of the music business," -says Loreena, "is unrealistic and in many ways manipulative. Artists end up with arrangements between companies and managers. When you hear of a business of four million, many times it refers to what the company plans to invest and how. you must also sell enough for them to recover that amount before you see a penny. That really was not of interest to me. I really urge artists to put forward on the business side of their careers. I can't conceive those who say 'I am a sensitive and creative mind and do not wish to become contaminated with business.' That's horrible, but candles for your own interest, ensure the other for their own interest, or maybe nobody appears. not much different from women in the '40s and '50s, saying 'my husband pays the bills and I want to know the light meter or whatever.' When you ar growing up on a farm you learn to preserve and create by yourself . If you have troubles, you should be creative enough to solve them without the means at your disposal to do so. "
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