At the recent Playback 2018, Music Canada’s annual industry dialogue and celebration, renowned Canadian musician and record label owner Loreena McKennitt was honoured with the Artist Advocate Award in recognition of her long-time advocacy for musicians’ rights. Introduced last year, the Award recognizes musicians and songwriters for their outstanding advocacy efforts to improve the livelihoods of music creators.
Music Canada President and CEO Graham Henderson presented McKennitt with the award, remarking: “Loreena, as everyone in this room knows, is an internationally successful artist entrepreneur. She founded her record label Quinlan Road in 1985, and since then, her music has received critical acclaim worldwide with sales of 14 million records globally.
"Throughout her illustrious career, and from the day she chose to retain her master rights, and do it her own way, she has been a passionate, devoted advocate for musicians’ rights.
"Her testimonies and submissions to parliamentary hearings have, over the years, demonstrated her deep business and political acumen, and has influenced real change making her a force to be reckoned with. She is also a dedicated human rights advocate, a generous philanthropist, she established the Cook-Rees Memorial Fund in 1998.
"I had the privilege of working for Loreena for almost 10 years and we have remained friends ever since. So in recognition of her unwavering public support for the rights of music creators, we are proud to present Loreena McKennitt with our 2018 Music Canada Artist Advocate Award.”
McKennitt graciously accepted the award, remarking on her career path and the impact that music has had on people across the globe. In her acceptance speech, she stated: “Well, thank you very much Graham for this, as well as Music Canada. It is unexpected but also, I feel there are others who are equally, if not more, deserving.
"It is true that my career path began in earnest around 1990 and it was at that time that I found Graham and he helped mastermind what became to some, a famous Warner deal. And he was an educator for me and an advocate as well as someone who really showed me a lot of the path forward.
"I grew up in Southern Manitoba in a German Mennonite community and music was central to our lives. Not so much in a professional sense, but in terms of a living, breathing medium that means so much to us as a species. The fact that I set out to be a veterinarian and ended up in the music industry certainly speaks to the fact that you can set out on a journey and not know where you will end up.
"But it is my sincere hope that through gatherings, such as today, and the minds of people who are really leaning against the wheel, that we can change for the better. All those who enjoy music are enriched by it, healed by it, entertained by it. And to protect that realm of music in their lives, we have as an industry, it’s not all about us, it’s all about other people and people we sometimes call the consumer. But when I meet them I hear people who have been genuinely changed through the medium of music.
"So, I thank you all once again for being here this afternoon and thank you very much for this recognition. I will continue to be whatever support I can until I hang up my shoes. Thank you.”