McLachlan to perform with orchestra at zooWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Taking the stage with an orchestra wasn’t something Sarah McLachlan was eager to do.
“I had a terrible experience many years ago at the Vatican in Rome playing for the pope — that’s another long story,” she said and laughed. “It was with a symphony there, and it was just an awful experience; everything went wrong that could have possibly gone wrong, and it left a very bad taste in my mouth.”
Her agent persisted and convinced her to try it again last summer.
“I did four shows and I fell in love with it. It’s so amazing to have that incredible surge and power behind me,” McLachlan said during a call from her home in Vancouver, British Columbia. “I’ve been playing a lot of these songs for many years; to be able to reinvent them like this is really thrilling.”
“Possession,” “Sweet Surrender,” “Fallen” and “Loving You Is Easy” are songs the Canadian superstar may perform when her symphony tour stops at the Toledo Zoo for a 7:30 p.m. concert June 27. Tickets are $50.50 or $70.50.
Her music resonates with the masses. Think “I Will Remember You” and “Angel.”
“I’m always surprised that so many people love my music and so many people can take something that I created and make it their own, which is really one of the greatest validations one can have as an artist. That people come up to me all the time and say this song has done so much for them, it’s helped them through a hard time, you know, because that’s what music is. For me, it’s so powerful and it’s such a cathartic thing to listen to music, to play music, and it’s helped me through so many hard times,” McLachlan said.
That power inspired her to start the Sarah McLachlan School of Music, a free program for youth in Vancouver who can’t afford music lessons. The goal: encourage confidence and creativity.
“I really feel like music saved my life in a lot of ways,” the singer-songwriter said. “There were a lot of pretty tough girls in my school, and I became a target because I cried easily. I had no support at home. I was pretty much on my own with it.
“So I just disappeared into music, and I knew instinctively that I was really good at it. It felt really good; it made me feel good; it made me feel that I had something worthy to offer.
“And I’ve kind of always had that feeling about music. It was really powerful for me, and it continues to do that for me today.”
Even though McLachlan has sold more than 40 million records and earned respect for women in the music world with Lilith Fair, not everyone is in awe.
“I think my youngest [daughter], who is 5, still worships me; my 10-year-old, I’m endlessly embarrassing her,” she said and laughed. “I’m a bit of a goof and I’m always doing silly things to try to make her laugh, and what used to make her laugh now just makes her cringe. But it still makes my 5-year-old laugh, so I just deal with it; I’m woefully uncool.”
That might change with the zoo gig.
“They’re very excited,” McLachlan said about the Toledo show, adding she knew the zoo’s reputation. “I actually got online and did a little research.”
And yes, she and the girls have a pet, a chocolate Lab. The dog’s name? “Ripley, like Ellen Ripley from ‘Alien,’ Sigourney Weaver. I didn’t grow up with a lot of strong female role models; she was definitely one of the best,” McLachlan said.
It sounds like the woman with the ethereal, evocative voice sets an excellent example for her daughters, India and Taja.
“They’re both great singers and really good dancers,” she said. “They are very, very, very strong-willed, which is good for a girl, and will not let anyone tell them what to do, which is a great challenge as a parent.”
But the Grammy Award winner is up for challenges. In 1997, she started Lilith Fair, the all-female tour.
“I think [Lilith Fair] made a huge difference within the industry certainly, which was an old antiquated boys’ club, who told us that we could not put two women back to back on the radio, we couldn’t put two women on a bill together; people wouldn’t come, people wouldn’t listen,” McLachlan said.
“By putting us all together and creating this huge momentum, it forced the industry to take notice. We created radio formats and, just together, we all became bigger and greater.”
From 1997-99, more than 2 million fans went to Lilith Fair, which raised more than $7 million for charities. The festival resurfaced in 2010.
“I’m really proud of Lilith; I’m proud of what I created and all the money that we were able to give to charity, the community we created and the careers that we helped to launch,” she said. “I’m really proud of my music school; we’ve been going 10 years now … this last year we went out on our own and it’s been a huge learning curve for me to create business strategies and fundraising strategies.”
How would McLachlan spend a day away from it all?
“I’d get up with my kids, who would come into bed with me and have a cuddle first and not fight. I’d have two double espressos, and there’d be a perfect 3- or 4-foot wave that I could go surf and nobody else out there on it. Then come back and have breakfast and build sand castles, and have a siesta in the afternoon and read a great book for a couple hours while the kids napped, and make dinner together, and hopefully have a bunch of friends over for dinner, and pop a nice bottle of white wine, and then go sit on the beach with the kids and have a bonfire and roast marshmallows.”