Since her debut in 1988, Sarah McLachlan's atmospheric folk-pop has gained a devoted following of fans not only in Canada, where she has established star status, but also in the U.S. and U.K. Each album has shown her growing both as a musician and songwriter, continually redefining herself and emerging as a major voice in the growing adult alternative pop format.
McLachlan was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on January 28, 1968, where she took vocal training in addition to classical piano and guitar lessons as a child. After a year of art training at the Nova Scotia School of Design, while fronting a new wave band, October Game, Nettwerk Records approached her for a solo deal. She initially turned it down in favor of continued studies, but took them up on the offer in late 1987 and relocated to Vancouver. On the strength of her debut, 1988's Touch, she was signed to Arista for international distribution. The album eventually reached gold status in Canada and was reissued worldwide in 1989. In 1991, she followed up with Solace, an impressive collection that showed a great leap in songcraft and built a strong cult following in the U.S.
In September 1992, following a 14-month promotional tour, McLachlan traveled to Cambodia and Thailand for work on a Canadian-sponsored documentary on poverty and child prostitution, World Vision. Inspired by her experiences, she retreated to a secluded house outside of Montreal to write material for her next album. After six months in a Montreal studio with collaborator/producer Pierre Marchand, Fumbling Toward Ecstasy, her strongest and most personal effort to date, was released in late 1993. The album peaked in the U.S. charts at number 50 and by the end of 1994, it reached platinum status after 62 weeks on the chart. "Possession," the single from the album, broke the Top 100 and received considerable airplay, especially on modern rock radio, where it reached number 14. "Good Enough" also found a home in that format, reaching number 16. The Freedom Sessions, consisting mainly of alternate versions of tracks from Fumbling, was released in 1995, and Rarities, B-Sides & Other Stuff, a collection of non-LP tracks and remixes, was issued in Canada in 1996.
In 1997, McLachlan began work on her fourth album, the enormously successful Surfacing, which debuted at number two on the pop albums chart. In addition to her own albums, she has contributed tracks to several cause-related releases, provided the theme for the film Brothers McMullen ("I Will Remember You"), and organized the Lilith Fair tour, a package tour focusing on emerging women singer/songwriters. 1999's multi-platinum Mirrorball chronicled McLachlan's performances on that tour and was her first live release. In 2003, after a short hiatus from the business, she put out the successful Afterglow, followed by the live CD/DVD Afterglow Live. The album eventually went four-times platinum, the DVD double platinum, and McLachlan continued to tour through 2005. In June of that year she performed on the Philadelphia stage of Live 8, the multi-city anniversary celebration of Live Aid and G8 summit protest coordinated by Live Aid founder Bob Geldof. In August she released Bloom, her second remix collection. While most of its material was drawn from Afterglow, it also included a version of the 1989 McLachlan track "Vox" and a previously unreleased collaboration with DMC and Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am. In 2006 Mirrorball: The Complete Concert, which captured the entirety of the last date on her 1998 tour, came out, as well as Wintersong, a collection of Christmas covers, both traditional and modern (plus a new song, the title cut). ~ Chris Woodstra, All Music Guide