NMC celebrates Sarah McLachlan’s Milestones with new Studio Bell exhibit

Building a legacy?

Yes, for the past three decades, Sarah McLachlan has certainly done that. A lasting one.

More than 40 million albums sold, numerous Top 10 hits, tireless charity work, her groundbreaking Lilith Fair tours — the East Coast-born, West Coast-based artist has made a mark on the world of popular music.

And over the course of the next week, said legacy will be properly feted by the Canadian music industry, including in Calgary.

On Tuesday morning, the National Music Centre unveiled a new exhibition in its East Village home of Studio Bell that is dedicated to the Canadian songstress, who will be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame — also housed in Studio Bell — during this weekend’s Juno Award festivities in Ottawa.

The collection, which is located in a room, or stage, on the fifth floor of the building, is called Milestones, and features an assortment of artifacts and awards from McLachlan’s influential career

“I’m incredibly honoured by this exhibition that features my work as a songwriter, as well as my efforts to give back and build stronger communities through music,” said McLachlan in a press release. 

“Music is a gift that’s meant to be shared and I was happy to be able to loan many beloved pieces to the National Music Centre for this exhibition.” 

Some of the artifacts include: the CP-80M electric grand piano, that was used by McLachlan during her performances for her female-centred festivals Lilith Fair; her Kay ‘Barney Kessel’ electric guitar, which she used on her second album, Solace; a Kala ukulele; and the Grammy Award she received for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance in 1999 for her hit I Will Remember You.

The latter, notes NMC president and CEO Andrew Mosker, is the first Grammy to appear in any Studio Bell exhibit — something he considers significant and fitting.

“I’m really proud to see that,” Mosker says. “Many Canadians have won Grammys — that’s our influence on the international stage as it relates to music, but also I think as it relates to extolling the values that we have as Canadians on the international stage as well.

“Sarah being a philanthropist, humanitarian, an incredible artist and a leading music industry influencer … I think makes many Canadians proud.

“That simple Grammy symbolizes a lot, I think, about Canada’s influence on the international stage and we’re honoured to have it here.”

McLachlan and her and her team in Vancouver were, Mosker says, “incredibly generous” with their time and input into the exhibit, with them offering up contributions that spoke of many different aspects of her career — from her songwriting to Lilith to her visual artwork and the Sarah McLachlan School of Music for at-risk youth, which just opened a branch in Edmonton.

The opening, again, was timed to coincide with the artist’s induction this weekend, which will also feature a musical tribute to her during Sunday night’s awards broadcast, airing on CTV and hosted by Canrock icon Bryan Adams and comic Russell Peters.

Unfortunately because of her commitments to the show, McLachlan who was unable to attend the media unveiling of Milestones on Tuesday morning and has still yet to see it in its finished form — unlike the first inductee in the Studio Bell housed hall of fame and artist to be featured in the Milestones space, Burton Cummings, who attended last year’s Junos in Calgary.

Mosker is still hoping to have McLachlan in some time in the coming weeks, so that she can tour the space, her exhibit and, if possible, perform.

At the very least, he’s hoping she’ll stop by to, like Cummings, sign her name on the wall and further acknowledge the role Studio Bell has now taken on as Canada’s home to music, its own building legacy. 

Milestones: Sarah McLachlan is open to the public with paid admission to Studio Bell, and will run from Wednesday until fall of this year. For more information go to

Mike Bell has been covering the Calgary music scene for the past 25 years with publications such as VOX, Fast Forward, the Calgary Sun and, most recently, the Calgary Herald. He is currently the music writer and content editor for, and the co-host of the show Saved By the Bell, which airs Wednesdays from 4-6 p.m. on CJSW 90.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter/@mrbell_23 or email him at He likes beer. Buy him one.