Psychedelic Lunch

Welcome to our “Psychedelic Lunch Series,” Lilith Fair Edition, where we find out how deep the rabbit hole really goes and explore music from the 60’s to today. Weekdays At Noon EST. Enjoy the trip!

Lilith Fair was a concert tour and travelling music festival, founded by Canadian musician Sarah McLachlan, Nettwerk Music Group’s Dan Fraser and Terry McBride, and New York talent agent Marty Diamond. It took place during the summers of 1997 to 1999, and was revived in the summer of 2010. It consisted solely of female solo artists and female-led bands. In its initial three years, Lilith Fair raised over $10M for charity.

In 1996, Canadian Sarah McLachlan became frustrated with concert promoters and radio stations that refused to feature two female musicians in a row. Bucking conventional industry wisdom, she booked a successful tour for herself and Paula Cole. At least one of their appearances together — in McLachlan’s home town, on September 14, 1996 — went by the name “Lilith Fair” and included performances by McLachlan, Cole, Lisa Loeb and Michelle McAdorey, formerly of Crash Vegas. 

The next year, McLachlan founded the Lilith Fair tour, taking Lilith from the medieval Jewish legend that Lilith was Adam’s first wife.

McLachlan studied classical piano, guitar and voice, before being discovered in 1985 by Nettwerk Records. She was 19 and fronting the band October Game at the time.

Her first album Touch, released in 1988, went Gold in her native Canada, but she did not gain widespread US popularity until the 1993 release of the album Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, fueled by the hit singles “Hold On,” “Possession,” and “Good Enough.”

She is adopted, which she learned around age 9. Her birth mother was a 19-year-old artist whom McLachlan later met. Sarah is very grateful to her adoptive parents and always felt like she belonged.

McLachlan said during a Reddit AMA that she doesn’t adhere to any particular religion. She explained: “I view the concept of God as an energy that we all are part of and share. If I had any spiritual leanings, it would be towards Buddhism. But again, I follow my own path most of my life.”

Asked whether she usually writes the melody or lyrics first, McLachlan replied:

“I almost always write melody first but often a few words creep in and then, if they feel strong, I will try and look deeper into why I said that and where could I go with that… it’s a discovery, searching, looking under rocks etc.”

Her music had a profound effect on the rapper DMC of Run-DMC, who was going through a severe depression when he immersed himself in her music. The pair later collaborated on the song “Just Like Me,” where DMC raps about his upbringing – like McLachlan, he was also adopted.

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