Sarah McLachlan gives grads a tribute to remember

(Edmonton) Close to 500 University of Alberta students will always remember their convocation ceremony today—and the Canadian songstress who joined them onstage and serenaded them.

Sarah McLachlan became part of the U of A family when she was awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree at this morning’s convocation. Noted for her “inspiring contributions as a singer, songwriter, philanthropist, mentor and role model,” McLachlan chose to pay tribute to the graduates with two of her best-loved songs, I Will Remember You and Angel. Both received standing ovations.

McLachlan, who is known for her work organizing the all-female Lilith Fair concerts, has contributed to several causes and charities, including animal welfare, women’s charities and HIV/AIDS research. She also founded the Sarah McLachlan School of Music, a free music program for at-risk, inner-city youth.

In prefacing her songs, she expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to be among the graduates. Between songs, she reflected on comments made in the convocation’s opening addresses and offered some poignant thoughts on how to move forward and succeed.

“If you live your life with impeccability and passion, to a certain degree you are above reproach,” she said. “What that means is that you’ve done your absolute best. You always strive higher and try and do everything you can to be the best possible person you can be. If you move forward with that attitude every day in your life, you kind of can’t fail. My hope for you today is that you live your life with passion and impeccability.”

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Following the event, McLachlan was the guest at a reception recognizing a charity event held this past September to benefit her school and three local arts groups, including the U of A’s fine arts programs. She later reflected on the event and spoke of the opportunity to look back on her accomplishments and be part of the convocation, watching “all these beautiful young people embarking on a whole new world.” Noting a desire to expand her school of music in Edmonton and across Canada, she stressed the importance of arts and music education for everyone.

“I think it’s imperative for children, youth and young adults to have art and culture in their lives,” she said. “It raises well-rounded children and adults who can think critically and creatively.”