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On June 15, 2010, the Grammy–winning singer and songwriter SARAH McLACHLAN released Laws of Illusion. That was Sarah’s first studio album of new material in seven years, since the double–platinum Afterglow in 2003, and its twelve songs rank with the most compelling work ever created by this gifted artist.
Because Sarah’s voice is so intimately familiar to so many of us, the experience of Laws of Illusion is a singular and special one. It’s like meeting an old friend again after long separation – and discovering that the passage of time and the accumulation of experience have only deepened rather than diminished that friendship.
For Sarah herself, this period was a time of profound change and renewed discovery. “I think when you go into a dark place for a while and you come out of it, the lightness you feel is…euphoric,” she told an Advocate.com interviewer in May 2010.
“My marriage collapsed a couple of years ago, and it was a long, dark road…Finally coming through that knowing that life is going to be okay, life will go on, and that there’s actually a possibility of love happening again is…just deliriously heady stuff.”
Laws of Illusion was produced by Sarah’s long-time creative collaborator Pierre Marchand, and together they co–wrote a number of the compositions. The sole outside number, “Bring On The Wonder,” was written by English singer/songwriter Susan Enan. (In 2008, Sarah was featured on Susan’s recording of this song for the television soundtrack Bones.)
Coupled with the release of Laws of Illusion came another landmark event in Sarah McLachlan’s career: her return to Lilith Fair, the all–female concert tour she founded in 1997. Between 1997 and 1999, Lilith Fair drew over two million fans and raised more than $7 million for charitable causes.
Since her signing with Arista Records nearly two decades ago, every one of Sarah McLachlan’s studio and live albums has been certified gold, platinum, or multi-platinum by the RIAA. Touch (1988) and Solace (1991) were both gold sellers. Her 1994 breakthrough, the triple-platinum Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, was followed by the digitally enhanced multimedia version of The Freedom Sessions (1995, gold).
Sarah’s landmark fifth album, the 10x-platinum Surfacing (1997), contained two Grammy-winning tracks: “Building a Mystery” won for Best Female Pop Vocal, and “Last Dance” was voted Best Pop Instrumental. In 1998, the soundtrack for City of Angels, a film inspired by Wim Wenders’ modern classic Wings of Desire, reached Number One on the Billboard chart. Featuring the Sarah McLachlan track “Angel,” the City of Angels soundtrack achieved 4x-platinum sales status.
The 1999 Lilith Fair tour gave rise to Sarah’s 4x-platinum album Mirrorball and its platinum long-form video counterpart. “I Will Remember You,” a track from Mirrorball, earned Sarah her third career Grammy, for Best Female Pop Vocal (1999).
Afterglow, released in 2003, reached 2x-platinum status and received two Grammy Award nominations: Best Pop Vocal Album and (for the opening track “Fallen”) Best Female Pop Vocal.
In September 2004, Sarah McLachlan released the socially charged video “World On Fire,” directed by Sophie Muller. The video made what Jon Pareles, writing in The New York Times, called “a modestly brilliant gesture: it stacks up budget items for a typical clip against what the same $150,000 budget would buy as relief efforts – cattle, bicycles, housing, education, medicine…The contrast between show-business splurges and practical aid is startling.” “World On Fire,” a Grammy nominee for Best Short Form Music Video, cost only $15 to make – the price of a Sony mini DV tape. The remainder of the $150,000 video budget was distributed among eleven charitable organizations around the world including CARE, Engineers Without Borders, Help The Aged, Warchild, and Heifer International.
In October 2006, Sarah released Wintersong, her first album of holiday-themed songs. Produced, engineered, and mixed by Pierre Marchand, the platinum-selling Wintersong reached No. 7 on the Billboard chart. The disc was nominated for both a Grammy (for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album) and a Juno Award (for Pop Album of the Year).
Sarah’s many cover songs and collaborations formed the repertoire for Rarities, B-Sides and Other Stuff Volume 2, released April 29, 2008. On October 7, 2008, the artist celebrated the 20th anniversary of her multi-platinum recording career with the release of Closer: The Best Of Sarah McLachlan. For her first career anthology, Sarah personally selected 13 classic tracks from her award-winning catalog and also included two newly recorded and previously unreleased songs, “U Want Me 2” and “Don't Give Up On Us.” Closer entered the Billboard chart at No. 11, Sarah’s fifth album to reach the Billboard Top 15.
Sarah McLachlan married Ashwin Sood in 1997; the couple separated eleven years later. They have two daughters, India Ann (born April 6, 2002) and Taja (born June 22, 2008).
In 1998, Sarah McLachlan received the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Visionary Award for advancing the careers of women in music. New York Governor George Pataki presented Sarah with the award on the 150th anniversary of the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, NY.
In 2003, the singer founded the Sarah McLachlan Music Outreach Program for the purpose of providing free music education classes to inner city youths whose school music programs have been reduced or abolished by budget cuts.