Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa
Sarah McLachlan is one of the most celebrated singer-songwriters in entertainment today with more than 40 million albums sold worldwide. She has received three Grammy Awards and 12 Juno Awards over her career and was recently inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.
In 2014, McLachlan released her seventh studio album, Shine On, for which she received a Juno Award for Adult Contemporary Album of the Year. Shine On explores her personal journey over the previous few years of navigating love, loss and change.
McLachlan’s latest release is her 2016 Christmas album Wonderland, for which she received a Juno Award for Adult Contemporary Album of the Year as well as a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. Wonderland contains fresh and inspired interpretations of 13 traditional and contemporary holiday classics.
In addition to her personal artistic efforts, McLachlan founded the Lilith Fair tour, which showcased female musicians and raised more than $7 million for local and national charities. In 2002, McLachlan founded her not-for-profit organization, the Sarah McLachlan School of Music, which provides top quality music instruction at no cost, in a safe and nurturing environment, for at-risk and underserved children and youth.
From an early age, music provided McLachlan with the tools she needed to navigate the challenges she faced in her life and she recognizes how important it is for every child to have those same opportunities.
Thank you so much. I am going to sing but I have a few words that I'd like to say. It is particularly humbling to receive this honour. I think in part because I barely passed high school. But, more importantly, because I really, really appreciate Capilano University's values; striving to become a diverse and progressive student-centred place of learning.
As a Canadian, this makes me proud. And as someone who cares greatly for the betterment of our world, and for the lives of our children, I am so happy that my school, the Sarah McLachlan School of Music, has entered into a partnership with Capilano University, and I'm so excited to work together to create more opportunities for our graduates to be able to come to this amazing school here.
As I said, I never went to university. I chose a different path, or maybe it chose me, but I feel so incredibly lucky and blessed to have found music, because through it, I found my purpose, my passion and certainly my self-worth, and I believe I have the best job in the world, because I get to help people. I get to make them feel better and create emotional connections, and generally spread love in the world, and who doesn't want that gig?! It's a good one.
I'm not saying it was all easy. I had to work really hard to get here and I've had my fair share of struggles but I am so grateful, because every day, I view every day as a gift and every mistake an opportunity to learn and grow. And I just recently heard this amazing quote by Emerson about living a successful life, I thought I'd share it with you today.
He says: "To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate the beauty, to find the best in others and to leave the world a little better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived; this is to have succeeded." And I SO believe this, and try and live it every day.
You're graduating. I hope that you all feel inspired and ready to go out into the world and give it everything you've got, because you all have the ability to shine, and I see you today, you are shining so brightly, and we need your brains. This world needs you. So I'm very happy to be part of this event.
I have a little bit of advice. This is something that my wicked 91-year-old stepmother says to me a lot, and I say wicked because she's wicked cool. She says "Be careful not to burn any bridges, because eventually, you're going to have to walk back over them." This is so true. Heed that advice. And from me, life is hard and challenging, so I want to remind you all to be kind to yourselves, and to your fellow humans.
Try to listen as much as you speak; embrace change, because it's always going to come, and don't be afraid to fail, because failure is where you find out what you're really made of. It's important. Please do what you say you're going to do, and take responsibility for the one life that you have and go create the change you want to see in the world. But right now, and I will do this with you, savour this moment, as Paul said.
Because today is a recognition of all your hard work, a culmination of blood, sweat and tears, all the struggles, and the joys that have led us to this place. And moments like these are beautiful, and important, so let's take the time to reflect and enjoy this day. I'm so happy to be here, to share this with you, and now I'm going to share my music.