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Loreena McKennitt, a Canadian musician, composer, harpist, accordionist and pianist who writes, records and performs world music with Celtic and Middle Eastern themes. McKennitt is known for her refined and clear dramatic soprano vocals. She has sold more than 14 million records worldwide.
McKennitt’s music has generally been classified as World or Celtic music even though it contains aspects and characteristics of music from around the globe and is sometimes classified as folk music in record stores.
Before McKennitt composes any music, she engages in considerable research on a specific subject which then 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. The result was an album that included elements of Celtic and Arabic music. According to the jacket notes, her album An Ancient Muse was inspired by travels among and reading about the various cultures along theSilk Road.
McKennitt is compared to Enya, but McKennitt’s 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, “Dark Night of the Soul” by St. John of the Cross, Dante’s Inferno, William Blake’s “Lullaby”, Yeats’ “The Stolen Child”, “The English Ladye and the Knight” by Sir Walter Scott and “The Highwayman” by Alfred Noyes.