Loreena McKennitt Receives Artistic Achievement Award

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One of Manitoba's most beloved, best-known, and commercially-successful artists will receive a special honour from one of Manitoba's most established event organizers. Singer/composer Loreena McKennitt will be the recipient of the first Artist Achievement Award from the Winnipeg Folk Festival at the venerable festival's annual Winter Wassail fundraiser on December 2.

The award, which consists of $10,000 cash and a commemorative award, was established in 2004 to recognize outstanding achievement in the performance, composition and innovation of music in the folk genre. The award also recogines significant contribution to the continued creation of public awareness of folk music. Nominees must have performed at the Winnipeg Folk Festival at some point during its 32-year history.

Morden-born McKennitt, whose musical career has spanned two decades, was a logical choice to be the first recipient of the award. The self-managed, self-produced harpist heads up her own internationally-successful label, Quinlan Road, which has released nine albums and achieved multiple sales awards in multiple countries. McKennitt has performed at the Folk Festival three times: in 1997 at the beginning of her career, in 1989 as she started to achieve national acclaim, and in 1992 as an established and successful artist. Her "eclectic Celtic" style, which infuses Celtic music with elements of traditional music from around the globe, has won multiple artistic awards, and McKennitt is often credited with re-popularizing Celtic ballads and folk songs as well as creating a new standard in world and folk music. McKennitt is also widely respected for her non-musical efforts, including her work with several charities.

"I am pleased and honoured to have been chosen to receive the Folk Festival's Artistic Achievement Award," said McKennitt in a press release from the Folk Festival. "The Winnipeg Folk Festival is a wonderful organization which has become a community ­ and a law­ unto itself, thanks to its vast network of volunteers, fans and guiding spirits, all brought together by a love of music. Performers and festival-goers alike experience the feeling of walking into the bosom of friends. The communal experience springs, I believe, from its dazzlingly broad church of genres, acts and personalities, all brought together in the truly glorious natural setting of Birds Hill Park. It's like a big family, and I am both proud to be a member of that extended family and grateful for the wonderful opportunities that the Festival offered to me at an early stage in my career."

While McKennitt will return to Manitoba from her current home in Stratford, Ontario to accept the award, she will not accept the cash prize. Showing her true dedication to the Folk Festival and the community it serves, McKennitt will instead donate the money back to the not-for-profit Folk Festival to help develop its young performers programs.

McKennitt, who will finally return to the recording studio in 2005, will perform solo at the $100-a-plate Winter Wassail fundraiser at the Fairmont Hotel.

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