Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sarah Mclachlan Plays along with Her Life's Changes

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Sarah Mclachlan Plays along with Her Life's Changes

Article excerpt

The singer-songwriter genre may have come of age in the 1960s and '70s, but it was redefined in the 1990s when what had been a mostly folk-rock fraternity embraced a new crop of smart, talented and successful wave of artists.

That decade witnessed an explosion of women on the commercial and alternative airwaves with Tori Amos, Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morissette, Sinead O'Connor, Jewel, Shawn Colvin, Paula Cole, Liz Phair, Tracy Chapman and Natalie Merchant.

And for that Sarah McLachlan deserves much of the praise.

The singer-songwriter with the ethereal mezzo-soprano was a known commodity in her native Canada before 1993's "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy" made her a star in the United States with such tracks as "Good Enough," "Hold On" and "Possession."

Ms. McLachlan was in the forefront of a new wave of women in rock, and she brought many of them together for the late-1990s touring music festival Lilith Fair, which she founded. But as good as the 1990s were to her, the 2000s have proven to be equally trying. She separated from her husband of 11 years and longtime drummer, Ashwin Sood, in 2008, and her 2010 Lilith Fair revival failed to muster the same enthusiasm as the tours from a decade ago, with poor sales leading to canceled dates and smaller venues.

That's behind her. The 44-year-old released her latest album in 2010, after a six-year break to raise two daughters. And last year she embarked on a trial run of a few tour dates with a symphony. The experiment went well enough that this summer she expanded the concept.

In a recent phone interview, she talked about the tour, and her crazy-busy schedule being a touring musician and mother.

Why did you decide to tour with an orchestra?

I only did four shows last year and that was sort of a test run to see if I would like it or how it would feel because I'd never done it before and I fell in love with it, thus we decided to do a more lengthy run this summer.

For the tour, did you choose songs that lent themselves more toward a symphonic arrangement, or did you want to push the material in a new direction?

There's the obvious choices of the hits and the singles and what does everybody want to hear, and then I tried to pick ones that would lend themselves very well to an orchestral arrangement. Like "Love Comes" sounds so beautiful with a symphony and "Angel" sounds amazing. So the pieces that don't have a band attached, where the symphony can really take over. "Sweet Surrender" is one of those. I wrote it as a ballad, but of course on the record it's much more upbeat. So I took it back to its original piano form and then challenged the arranger to come up with something that was dark and moody to go along with it.

How do you balance all of your projects, along with being a full- time musician and mom? …

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