One of the most emotionally stirring songs of modern times is Sarah McLachlan’s Angel. Through her soulful, heart-wrenching vocals, she has moved many listeners and fans to tears on her own. That talent was on display in 2008 when McLachlan joined P!nk for a duet performance of Angel at the American Music Awards.
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Angel is a hit from the late 1990s that stayed on the Billboard Top 100 list for dozens of weeks, and it continues to be a memorable song that brings to mind significant loss to all who hear it.
It was originally written by Sarah McLachlan as a tribute to the Smashing Pumpkins keyboard player who died of a drug overdose, according to SongFacts. Because this is a very popular and emotional song about loss, it is commonly played at funerals and memorial services.
In 2008, Sarah McLachlan performed this song on stage for her fans as she normally did. She was seated at a piano, and the lights in the theater were dimmed. Only a beam of light shone down on the singer and the piano.
Because of this and because the audience was so intently focused on the touching lyrics of Angel, nobody noticed another musical artist walking slowly across the stage. As the second artist approached the single beam of light shining down on the stage, the audience realized that P!nk was present.
They went wild as she began singing a duet with Sarah McLachlan.
Both of these musicians are well-known for their powerful voices as well as their intense control, emotion, and range. Their voices were perfectly paired to bring even more emotion to an already dramatic song. As the two musicians sang the final notes, there were many teary eyes in the audience.
Speaking in a 2016 interview with Examiner.com, McLachlan explained why she thinks the ballad Angel helps to bring people together:
“I’m not really sure. I write from an emotional point of view and I think that it struck a chord with so many people on so many different levels. I’m really grateful. It’s wonderful to be able to create something that goes out there in the world and has a life beyond me and brings some kind of joy and awareness or comfort to people. Music, for me, is incredibly comforting. I go to music to soothe myself when I’m angry or frustrated and when I’m sad. Music helps me, amazingly.”
Sarah McLachlan is a Canadian singer-songwriter, best known for singing heartfelt ballads, so it’s no surprise that Angel is such an incredible hit. Born on January 28, 1968, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, McLachlan was adopted into the McLachlan family. She began playing music from a very young age. At the age of four, she was playing the ukulele, before she went on to study classical guitar, piano, and voice at the Maritime Conservatory of Music. At 17, she went on to front a rock band titled The October Game, but after the band’s first concert, she was scouted and offered a recording contract as a solo artist. In the same interview with Examiner.com, McLachlan detailed how she wrote her first song after being signed to a label:
“My first song was called, Out of the Shadows and it was for my first record (Touch in 1989) I was nineteen-years-old and I had just gotten a record contract. Originally, this small independent label brought me up to Vancouver and said, ‘We’re going to have you write with a bunch of other bands that we have on the label.’ Well, they didn’t talk to these other bands, so these established bands said, ‘I don’t want to write with this punk kid.’ The label said, ‘Why don’t you see what you can come up with on your own?’”
She continued on:
“I’d never really written anything before but I had helped with hooks and melodies and lyrics with the band that I’d had before, but I’d never written an entire song so I had to, through trial and error, figure it out as I went along. I remember I’d been reading Jerzy Kosinski’s The Painted Bird (1965). I loved that book and loved the story. I said, ‘I’m going to write about the boy.’ I wrote that song, loosely based on that book.”