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Loreena McKinnett brings passion for Celtic music to Rochester

In a rare Rochester appearance, Canadian singer-songwriter Loreena McKinnett will perform her 1991 record "The Visit" on Tuesday, October 17th at the Kodak Center.

As a girl growing up in rural Manitoba, Loreena McKinnett says she once dreamed of being a veterinarian.

But music chose her. That’s how she explains her origins as a musician, and why she ended up in Toronto singing at a public market with a box of cassette tapes and a Celtic harp.

“I’d drive in from Stratford on a Friday night, crash on a friend's couch, and set up my harp about 7:00 a.m. to get the best busking spot,” she said in an interview with WXXI.

Warm responses to her songs encouraged her to create more albums and to dig deeper into her Celtic heritage. Her interest in the Celts intensified when she learned about a massive exhibit of artifacts in Venice.

“I realized that the Celts were much more than this mad collection of anarchists from Scotland and Ireland and Wales and Brittany,” she recalled. “They were this vast collection of tribes that fanned out across Europe and into Asia Minor and dated back to about 500 BC."

Following the geography of those ancient people, McKinnett transformed her music into travel writing.

As a result of the success of her third recording, Parallel Dreams, major record companies came calling, and in 1991 she signed a licensing deal with Warner Music Canada, which brought her music around the world.

McKinnett’s 1991 album “The Visit” catapulted her to fame.

Since the 1990's, the Canadian singer-songwriter has sold more than 14 million albums and won two Junos (Canada's top music award.) In March of 2023, she was inducted into the Canadian Songwriter's Hall of Fame.

This fall she’s bringing The Visit Revisited Tour to 23 American cities in the U.S. Northeast and parts of the Midwest, with stops in the Canadian prairies. In the spring of 2024 the tour will visit 10 countries in Europe and the U.K.

She'll perform Tuesday night, October 17th, at Rochester’s Kodak Center.

In advance, she spoke with WXXI’s Brenda Tremblay.