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  • Writer's picturePenny Neef

Loreena McKennitt’s World Music Coming to Norfolk

Words by Penny Neef. Photo by Richard Haughton.

Loreena McKennitt, singer and songwriter of “eclectic Celtic” music will be touring the United States for the first time in eight years this fall. You can hear her “refined and clear” soprano voice, along with her long-time musical companions Caroline Lavelle on cello, Brian Hughes on guitar, Hugh Marsh on violin and Dudley Phillips on bass at Chrysler Hall on Sunday, October 22 at 7:30.

The Visit Revisited Tour: The Next Chapter commemorates the 32nd anniversary of McKennitt’s 1991 award-winning album, The Visit. This album “propelled” McKennitt onto the world stage.

Loreena McKennitt is talented, savvy, thoughtful, and wise. My mother used to call those kinds of people “deep thinkers”. Born in Manitoba, Canada, McKennitt’s plan was to become a veterinarian. She says, “music chose me rather than me it.” McKennitt was wise enough not to ignore music.

Instead of vet school, she headed to the famous Stratford Festival in Ontario where from April to October every year, the Festival produces play after play after play. McKennitt’s gorgeous singing voice got her many roles in the musical theater productions. She also busked outside one of my favorite markets, St. Lawrence Market, in Toronto.

McKennitt knew, even when she was singing in the street back in the ‘80’s, that she wanted to be in control of her own destiny. She had success at the Stratford Festival and in venues around Toronto. She learned the craft of songwriting. She took deep dives into ancient Celtic music. In 1985, she borrowed the money her parents had saved for her college, and produced her first solo recording. Then she sold the recordings, one at a time, on her own. “I made my own way before I was ever noticed by any recording company or manager.”

“By 1991, I had the capacity to finance my own recordings and tour.” By then, Warner Music Canada had taken notice of her talent and her success. McKennitt signed an unprecedented contract with Warner that protected her artistic freedom, control over her recordings, and her business rights. It was very savvy for a young artist in 1991.

Loreena McKennitt’s music is unique, because she is. She has traveled the world, learning the music, the history and the geography from Spain to Turkey. She learns, absorbs, and then she creates. Celtic music may be her first love and her main influence, but she tells me that the ancient Celts “fanned out across Europe”, just as she has. Some people call her music “world music”. Others say it’s a blend of Celtic, folk, pop, middle eastern and more.

Come hear for yourself at Chrysler Hall on October 22. Loreena McKennitt is only in Norfolk for one night, and who knows when she will be touring again. For tickets and more information, go to

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