Canadian-born Sarah McLachlan has been crooning for audiences since she was 17. At that time, she had a short-lived rock band called "The October Game," and her high school yearbook predicted that her future "destined to become a rock star."
Although she may have had a rocker's start, the songs for which McLachlan has become most famous feature a more intimate and emotional use of her voice.
McLachlan recently sat down with "Nightline" at New York City's Amalia to discuss the music that has influenced her, and her own.
"If I had to pick one song for me that sort of quintessentially summed me up, it would be 'Angel,'" she said, referring to the hit track featured in the "City of Angels" soundtrack that achieved multi-platinum sales. "Without fail, I absolutely love singing it," she said.
For McLachlan it's been the song that has drawn the most feedback, time and again. "For me, that's one of the best validations as an artist," she said. "To have a stranger come up to you and say that something you've created and put out there in the world has had some sort of impact on other people's lives."
This year brings new developments in McLachlan's career. On June 15, 2010, the Grammy Award–winning singer and songwriter released her latest album, "Laws of Illusion." It is the artist's first studio album of new material in seven years. Lilith Fair, a concert tour co-founded by McLachlan in 1997,the first tour to headline with all female artists. Lilith Fair also returns to concert stages this summer.
Here are some of the tunes that have helped to shape her own sound. Some of her answers may surprise you.
Kenny Rogers: "The Gambler"
"Ooh, Kenny Rogers, strangely enough!" she said. She recalls a time in seventh grade when she played "The Gambler" in a variety show. "I thought Kenny Rogers was the bomb back then!" she said laughing. "Embarrassing moment!"
"I've been a fan of old country music, like Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline," she said."I think I'm drawn to it because of the sense of sadness and sort of loss that a lot of good old country music has."
At 11, her family was given a piano and the singer/songwriter said she always wanted to play it along with the piano at her school. "I ended up spending a lot more time with piano than guitar," she said. "And then when I was writing, it's a much easier tool to write with."
Peter Gabriel: "Mercy Street"
McLachlan said she was introduced to Peter Gabriel when she was 16, and is a big fan of his music. "If I had to choose one song, I think it would probably be 'Mercy Street,'" she said, citing the incredible sense of loss one feels listening to the song. "I think really, both lyrically and musically he really hits the nail on the head with that one."
She said in high school she would analyze Garbriel's work. "You know, why does this move me? Why does it make me feel something? And how can I emulate that without copying him? He has been a huge influence," she said. She added that Gabriel's "body of work is amazing and he's just incredibly, incredibly talented."
Jane Siberry: "The Valley"