Loreena McKennitt, Canada’s premiere independent artist and interpreter of Celtic music, is touring the U.S. for the first time since 2007, presenting an intimate concert series featuring a trio of musicians and some of her most traditional music, including this weekend in Dallas. But in many ways, the foundation of this tour began 35 years ago.
That’s when the singer was developing a one woman show about the Irish immigration to Canada. The project was to tell the story of this harrowing journey to the Great White North with the inclusion of eyewitness accounts, the poetry of Yeats, and the songs that tied into that migration.
“It was a project that I would never finish but when we were setting up to do this performance a year and a half ago, I thought it might be interesting to weave some of that material into the performance, as well,” she says.
The project began in 1981, but it would take years before she began to expand the sound and scope of her music, incorporating outside of the box instrumentation and musical themes into her own brand of Celtic music.
“Once I heard Celtic music, I was immediately smitten by it. It was far less a function or response to the fact that my own heritage is primarily Scots Irish than it was that there was something inherent in the Celtic music that made it quite infectious,” she says.
She’s also glad to bring her style to the LGBT community. Many of her albums, such as The Visit, deal with themes of transformation, overcoming obstacles and journeys of self-discovery — themes familiar to the LGBT community, especially during the process of coming out.
”That’s significant, she says. “When people go through whatever their obstacles are, I think that one of the most important things is that you just don’t feel alone. Sometimes you can get comfort from complete strangers in the most amazing ways. And, it’s been very humbling for me to experience and learn how people have used my music. I just think that music is an exceptional language that transcends time and barriers.”
Transcending time, space and barriers is a profound part of her music, and the small configuration of her tour allows her to take that to the next level in her travels across the U.S. She is quick to point out that one of her favorite parts of doing small shows with short driving distances between allows her to meet and interact with local people and really experience each location for what it has to offer rather than being delivered like a package via plane or tour bus.
“You know, whether it’s in Ireland or Morocco or whether it’s in Texas or Quebec City, I love the act of just being able to engage with people and welcome any opportunity to do that. So, we’re really looking forward to this!”
— Waylon Jordan
McFarlin Auditorium, 6405 Boaz Lane. March 5. 8 p.m. Ticketmaster.com.