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Time out for Sarah McLachlan


December 6, 1999
Web posted at: 1:14 p.m. EST (1814 GMT)

From Brooke Alexander
CNN WorldBeat Correspondent

(CNN) -- Never out of the charts and the female forefront of the Lilith Fair Tour, Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan has been one of the most visible artists of 1999. Her live album, "Mirrorball," has spent six months on the Billboard album charts and she has songs in two hit movies, "Toy Story II" and "Anywhere But Here."

But you probably won't see as much of her next year. After anchoring a third season of Lilith Fair, she says she's putting aside touring to concentrate on songwriting and starting a family.

As she prepared to play her last scheduled live performance of the year -- the Bob Marley tribute concert in Jamaica on December 4 -- McLachlan looked back at her musical beginning.

"The first gig we ever played was in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where I'm from," McLachlan says. "I was in a band called the October Game, and we opened up for a Vancouver band. The guitar player in the band was also the A&R guy from Nettwerk (Records). He heard me sing and wanted me to join the band. I was 17, barely getting through high school. My parents freaked out, said 'no way.'

"So that didn't happen. But we kept in touch," she says, "and two years later (1987) they offered me a five-record deal, a solo career -- a solo deal based on kind of that one night, really. I was amazed and very happy. It was like my dream come true."


"Vox" (1989)
[145k MPEG-3] or [200k WAV]

"Ice Cream" (1994)
[165k MPEG-3] or [225k WAV]

"Sweet Surrender" (1997)
[120k MPEG-3] or [165k WAV]

"Adia" (1997)
[150k MPEG-3] or [205k WAV]

"Building a Mystery" (1997)
[140k MPEG-3] or [195k WAV]

(Courtesy Arista Records)


McLachlan says success came gradually. "I had a chance to sort of just grow into it," she says. "With every record I put out, I got a bit more success, a bigger following in cities I would play in and occasionally a bit of radio play.

"I guess I would count one of the biggest successes when 'Surfacing' (Arista, 1998) came out and entered in at No. 2 on the Billboard charts, which was a huge shock to me because I'd never really charted on anything before in America."

"Surfacing" has sold 6 million copies in the United States and has has achieved Diamond status in Canada, for selling more than 1 million copies. The album also earned McLachlan two Grammy Awards. Her other albums include "Touch" (Arista, 1988), "Solace" (Arista, 1991), "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy" (Arista, 1994) and "The Freedom Sessions" (Nettwerk, 1994).

Songwriting as therapy

McLachlan says she finds songwriting therapeutic, finding it's "a way of expressing things that I'm maybe not quite yet understanding or figuring out, especially lyrically. I mean I write music all the time. I think when I talk about having writer's block it's more to do with lyrics than anything else.

"Music is very nebulous and you can conjure up a lot of moods with music. But lyrics -- they're a lot more tangible. They're much more specific. And you want to say something meaningful and creative and artistic and that tells a story and that takes people someplace else. It's a big challenge for me to do that and keep my integrity intact and keep some of my privacy intact, as well, because they are very personal typically."

McLachlan says her husband/drummer Ash Sood is a "huge support." "He knows exactly what this crazy job is all about," she says. "And he's a fantastic guy. He's a great musician and he's a joy to be around."

Next year, McLachlan will have more time to spend with him. She's not planning to head the Lilith Fair in 2000, which concluded its third tour this summer. The artists -- Shawn Colvin, Sheryl Crow, Liz Phair, Queen Latifah and the Indigo Girls among them -- toured 52 cities in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom in 1999, grossing more than $28 million.

McLachlan admits that Lilith Fair started out as sort of a "selfish thing." "I wanted to do a few shows in the summer, but I didn't want the responsibility of it all on my shoulders," she says. "I thought, 'Well, why don't I get some of the women who I've had open up for me before and some artists that I really admire and respect. Let's ask them to do a few shows.'"

The first year was really successful, McLachlan says. "Everybody loved it, and we all loved it as artists," she says. "We thought, well, let's do this next summer. Let's put on a whole festival tour like this. There's not only women up there playing drums, guitar, electric guitar, bass ... there's women in the crew, there's riggers and a lot of these jobs are traditionally held by men. So we're really sort of breaking down those walls as well.

As much as McLachlan says she enjoyed the Lilith Fair tours, she says she needs a rest. "I'm going to take the next year off to write and just sort of be out of the spotlight and see where the winds blow," she says.

A century of 'Respect' for women in music
November 3, 1999
Sarah McLachlan says 'Good music stands out'
July 31, 1998
Last call for Lilith Fair
April 28, 1999
Quitting while they're ahead: Summer '99 to close Lilith Fair
May 4, 1999
From Celine to Shania, Canada perfecting the export
March 17, 1999

'One Love: The Bob Marley All-Star Tribute"
Official 'Lilith Fair' site
Sarah McLachlan Homepage
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