Folksy intimacy and quiet, burning passion characterize the music of 3-time Grammy and 8-time Juno Award-winning multi-platinum Arista recording artist Sarah McLachlan
, who has sold over 30 million records around the world. These qualities came through with quicksilver grace and clarity on the 1999 release of Mirrorball
, the first live recording of her career. It was a unique project in pop annals, in that the first configuration (issued in June '99) was a 14-song, 66-minute CD whose performances were gathered (personally chosen by Sarah, and remastered by her) from the spring 1998 tour in support of her best-selling 8-times platinum breakthrough album, Surfacing, released earlier in 1997.
A second configuration of Mirrorball
was then released on DVD and VHS in October 1999, four months after its CD predecessor. The 23-song, two-hour video represented an entire concert, from the closing two nights of the same spring 1998 tour, as captured live at the Rose Garden Arena (Theater of the Clouds) in Portland, Oregon. Over the years, resourceful fans of Sarah McLachlan have had to improvise their own ways of extracting the audio from that concert, in order to play it on the road, on their personal devices, or just on the home stereo.
Now, for the first time, Sarah has personally remastered the concert audio, and the long-awaited 2-CD version of the Mirrorball
event in Portland will arrive in stores October 3rd on Arista/Legacy, a division of SONY BMG Music Entertainment. The special digipak packaging will include never-before-released photographs and reflections from Sarah and each of her band members.
release comes in advance of Wintersong
, Sarah's first holiday album, which arrived in stores October 17. It is Sarah's first new studio recording since the 2003 release of Afterglow
, a double-platinum album that has sold more than 4 million units worldwide.
1997, '98 and '99 - the years leading up to the original Mirrorball
releases - were extraordinary years for Sarah McLachlan, in which a decade of patience and hard work were paying off with success around the world. It was the culmination of a special relationship that began with Arista's release of her debut album Touch
(recorded in 1988 for the Vancouver-based Nettwerk Records), followed by Solace
three years later. Critical favorites that found acceptance at the fringes of radio, the two albums paved the way for 1994's Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
. Sarah's first RIAA gold album, it featured some of the most enduring songs she had ever recorded. In fact, with the exception of one tune, virtually every song on Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
is heard performed live on this new edition of Mirrorball
.Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
became Sarah's first RIAA gold album, and brought her to the prestigious (and highly visible via VH1) LifeBeat benefit concerts in the summer of '94 and '95. Her first cross-country U.S. tour in '95 coincided with the release of Rock For Choice's Spirit of '73 benefit album, featuring her version of Joni Mitchell
's "Blue." Arista also released a new digitally enhanced multimedia version of The Freedom Sessions
, previously available as a conventional mini-album only in Canada.
"I Will Remember You" emerged as a single from The Brothers McMullen
movie soundtrack (Arista) in late-'95, and finally gave Gen-X'ers a song of Sarah's they could request on Top 40 stations everywhere. The song's inclusion on Mirrorball
marked its first appearance on a Sarah McLachlan album. The Rarities, B-Sides & Other Stuff
collection gathered up many loose ends in 1996.
And then came 1997. The summer release of her fifth album, Surfacing
, coincided with the first Lilith Fair: A Celebration of Women In Music. The touring amalgamation, dozens of headlining female artists along the way, was the surprise success story of the season. "Building a Mystery" became a top 10 hit from the album, eventually winning the Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal, while "Last Dance" was voted Best Pop Instrumental. The album rose to RIAA platinum by year's end and peaked at #2 on its way to 108 weeks on the chart.
Three more hits from Surfacing spanned 1998 and '99 - "Sweet Surrender," the #1 gold single "Adia," and the Top 5 "Angel" (from the Nicolas Cage
film City Of Angels
). In mid-'98, with Surfacing
on the chart for a year, and the second Lilith Fair tour set to launch, Arista issued the first volume of Lilith Fair performances, a platinum double-CD set. By mid-'99, Surfacing had been on the chart two years. The third (and final, declared Sarah) Lilith Fair was about to begin, as Arista released CD volumes two and three of tour performances (culled from 1997 and '98).
As Lilith Fair opened in Sarah's hometown of Vancouver, the first CD version of Mirrorball
entered the Billboard chart at #3, on its way to double-platinum. For her fans, it all came full-circle with the live version of "I Will Remember You" (the old Brothers McMullen tune). The only live song on Billboard's year-end list of the top Hot 100 singles of 1999, it went on to win Sarah her second Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal at the 2000 ceremonies.
When the video counterpart of Mirrorball
(the Portland performances) was issued, Sarah's concert set contained live versions of 11 of the 12 songs originally heard on Fumbling Towards Ecstasy
; and 7 of the 10 songs from Surfacing
- among them the four hit singles, "Building a Mystery," "Sweet Surrender," "Adia," and "Angel."
Late-1999 turned into the start of a long hiatus for Sarah, which encompassed the death of her mother in 2001, and the birth of daughter India in 2002. "I lost a mother and I became a mother," she declared upon her return in 2003. "I walked away from music for a few months. I didn't play my piano, I didn't open up my journals, I just really needed to let go of all the pressures and the expectations … Taking a break and walking away was the best thing I could have done. I came back to it with fresh ears, listened to the tracks, and I realized that it was all sounding really good and to finish it didn't seem impossible anymore."
The result was the 2003 release of Afterglow
, a double-platinum album that received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album, and whose opening track, "Fallen," was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal. Sarah McLachlan Remixed, a collection of remixes by William Orbit, BT, Dusted, DJ Tiësto
, and others, was issued December 2003, and peaked at #1 on the Billboard Top Electronic Albums chart.
Sarah's summer 2004 tour in support of Afterglow
was captured on the double-platinum Afterglow Live
two-disc package, her second live release. It comprised a 23-track DVD of live performances, behind-the-scenes footage, video clips, and director Sophie Muller's short film "World on Fire," plus a 15-track bonus CD recorded in Toronto.
(Sarah did her fair share for those in need when she arranged for the production costs of "World On Fire," to benefit 11 charities around the globe. Acclaimed video director Sophie Muller (with whom Sarah worked since 1999) and her production crew donated their time and skill so that nearly $150,000 could be distributed to Action Aid, CARE USA, Carolina For Kibera, Comic Relief, DORCAS, Engineers Without Borders, Film Aid, Heifer International, Help The Aged, ITDG, and War Child.)
Sarah traveled to the Museum Of Art in Philadelphia on July 2, 2005, to perform as part of the North American lineup at "Live 8: The Long Walk To Justice." A second album of remixes, Bloom
, was issued September 2005, with remixes by Rollo (of Faithless
) and Mark Bates (Dusted), Junior Boys
, Gabriel & Dresden, Junkie XL
, Hyper & Ronnie, Thievery Corporation
, Sly & Robbie
, and Talvin Singh.
The release of Wintersong marks the latest chapter in one of pop music's most fascinating lives. The album opens with Sarah's version of John Lennon
's timeless declaration of peace from 1971, "Happy Xmas (War is Over)." John and Yoko
and the Plastic Ono Band originally recorded the song with the Harlem Community Choir, and Sarah is also joined by a choral group - a children's choir of students from the music school she personally funds and oversees in her hometown of Vancouver, The Sarah McLachlan Music Outreach Program.
Founded in September 2003, the program provides free music education classes to inner city youths whose school music programs have been hit by budget cuts. "As a kid," Sarah recalls, "music saved my life; having that one thing that I knew I was good at made all the difference. It feels so good to be able to see their lives impacted. There's hardly any joy comparable."
Mirrorball: The Complete Concert By Sarah Mclachlan Track Listing
1. Building A Mystery
3. Hold On
4. Good Enough
5. Do What You Have To Do
8. I Will Remember You
10. I Love You
11. I Will Not Forget You.
1. The Path Of Thorns (Terms)
7. Into The Fire
9. Ice Cream
10. Sweet Surrender
11. Fumbling Towards Ecstasy