I’m a huge fan of the Callie Khouri-penned television show Nashville. The cult series about fictional country superstar Rayna James garnered plenty of acclaim with its bird’s eye view on the music industry but it never got the viewership required for longterm survival or mass appeal. So while Nashville will pass into obscurity when the series wraps up this summer, if you know the show, you’ll understand why I can’t help but think of “Rayna James” while speaking with Canadian music icon, Sarah McLachlan.
In-person, McLachlan epitomizes rock and roll cool. She wears a pair of waxed denim jeans with a sleeveless lace top and distressed denim Scotch and Soda jacket over top. She’s fit too, with taut arms that must come from years of playing guitar, and she’s a devoted mother, and like most gifted artists, is at ease performing an intimate acoustic set for less than 200 people at the Ritz-Carlton Toronto. If McLachlan misses her touring band, you’d never know it, she’s all smiles as the wee crowd sings every word to the song “Ice Cream.”
McLachlan was in town to help celebrate travel giant Marriott International’s new unified benefits program, set to debut in August 2018. Under this new program Marriott Rewards can be combined with The Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program. It’s an ambitious merger that will allow members to redeem points at 6,500 hotels in 127 countries, while allowing them to top up for the Marriott’s “Moments” experiential program. The latter program will also grow to include the Moments Live event series, which is where, as she explains after the show, a star of McLachlan’s calibre factors into things.
“I have a show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, with the Colorado Symphony, on July 26th. And one of the Magic Moments is going to be two people flying there and watching the performance and hanging out with me after having a glass of wine and hopefully enjoying the evening. I love that you can buy these incredible experiences, and really these days, that’s what people want, they want experiences.”
Despite her own years on the road, McLachlan, now 50, says there are plenty of places to visit—especially when making the distinction between touring (work to her) and travelling (fun for all). Plus as a mom to daughters, India (16) and Taja (10), it’s not as easy to pick up and go.
When they were little, her daughters would join her on tour but now, “they’re in school and, especially high school, is a little more challenging so I book my tours around their summer vacations or spring breaks and Christmas breaks. We’re going to go to India next year. My ex is Indian and my two daughters obviously are half-Indian and they’ve never been.”
Her last trip there lasted six weeks when she was just 17. “It’s fantastic,” says McLachlan now. “It’s always ‘I can’t wait to go back there,’ but you know travel can get significantly hampered after kids.” For that reason, she tries to not be away from her Vancouver home for more than two weeks at a time. That’s not to say she doesn’t have a bucket list: “Egypt, Indonesia and Argentina,” she says.
“I also want to do a bicycle trip across Ireland. But a lot of this are ‘without kids.’”
As our conversation starts to wrap up, I see a lineup of VIPs growing behind me as they wait for their ‘Moment’ with Sarah McLachlan. I ask when she heads home to Vancouver.
“Tomorrow morning,” she says. “I have to pick up my kids from school.” She really is like Rayna James (or vice versa), and no, she’s never seen the show. I asked.