The Visit the album that changed everything for Loreena McKennitt

The Visit, the album that changed everything for Loreena McKennitt

In 1991, Loreena McKennitt would see her life changed forever. By then an independent, self-distributed artist, The Manitoban signed a licensing deal with Warner Music Canada. his album The visit was then spread all over the planet. Thirty years later, the Celtic musician, who has sold more than 14 million albums in her career, is on tour again and will revisit this record that changed everything. The newspaper spoke to her.

Speaking to the very kind Loreena McKennitt over Zoom is a bit like reconnecting with a distant aunt. The 65-year-old musician speaks softly and answers questions generously.

At the time of our conversation she was in a Toronto hotel room, she who had been invited to be part of the jury for the Glenn Gould Prize, accompanied by kd lang and Robert Lepage, among others. This honor is given every two years to an individual for their contribution to music.

The new tour that will bring Loreena McKennitt to Quebec in a few days gives pride of place to her legendary album The Visit. In fact, McKennitt will perform the album in its entirety and in order for the first time in his career. “This album certainly marks a turning point in my career,” she notes.

But back then, McKennitt was full of doubts when he created The Visit. She recalls laughing and even asking her violinist if she should continue working on the album as she wasn’t convinced. “He told me to keep going! [rires]»

Global success

We know the rest. The visit would help the musician gain international recognition. The territories of Spain and Brittany, France would quickly embrace the Canadian passion for Celtic music.

How had she coped with this sudden success back then? “On one hand, it was really exciting,” she said. But I remember doing a media showcase in Toronto. And after playing that night, I felt like my life was about to change. On the way back to the hotel I started crying.

“I’m not an outgoing person,” she continues. I live on a remote farm in the countryside near Stratford [en Ontario]. I don’t deal with people much. There was this tension between being an individual and being an artist whose work connects people.”

Today Loreena McKennitt hardly differs from the musician of that time. She still wears her big red hair and continues to conduct her career on her own. In 2019, she announced that she was taking a break from her career to help her community.

In particular, she campaigned for the closure of a glass factory in Stratford that was harming the environment. However, the arrival of the pandemic has slowed his activist impulses. When a colleague from the UK mentioned The Visit’s 30th anniversary in 2021, the idea of ​​doing a re-release of the album and a tour quickly came up.

Warm Quebecers

Although she travels all over the world, the musician comes very regularly to play in Quebec. When asked what she thinks of the Quebec public, a big smile spreads across her face.

“People in Quebec are so enthusiastic, warm and committed,” she says. Actually a relief! Because we play in front of different personalities and cultures elsewhere in the world. And in Quebec in particular, people are really comfortable expressing their feelings. It creates an interaction between the artist and the audience.”

Because the COVID is still with us, Loreena McKennitt had to make the difficult decision of not being able to meet her admirers after the concerts, a moment she always experienced with great joy. “Often I’ve spent as much time chatting with people after the concert as the duration of the show itself! But it was necessary to abandon this idea for that time.

For this new round, Loreena McKennitt will be joined by Hugh Marsh (violin), Brian Hughes (guitar, oud and Celtic bouzouki), Caroline Lavelle (cello) and Dudley Philips (bass).

“We won’t have a drummer this time because we felt the repertoire didn’t lend itself to that,” she said. But we love our drummer! I will miss him.”

When asked at the very end of the interview what we can wish for her in the future, Loreena McKennitt replies that she doesn’t wish much for her. “What I would most like to see is a way to end the climate crisis.”

Loreena McKennitt will present her tour The return visit October 2nd and 9th at the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier in Montreal and October 5th and 6th at the Grand Théâtre de Québec. For info: