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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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.”
Her first two albums Touch and Solace showcased her skills, with the latter giving her a mainstream breakthrough in her native Canada. Her star continued to rise and by her fourth studio album Surfacing, she earned the immense recognition she was due. The album, which features the song Angel, is still her best-selling and best-known to date. It won two Grammys and four Juno Awards.
Since then McLachlan has continued to write and perform music, releasing albums and touring, as well as co-creating a female concert tour named Lilith Fair, and engaging in frequent charity work. Considering her history of advocating for strong female representation, it makes complete sense that McLachlan partnered up with P!nk on this duet of Angel, as P!nk is known to be one of the strongest women in pop music.
Alecia Beth Moore AKA P!nk was born on September 8, 1979, in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Spending her early years between the ages of 4-12 training as a competitive gymnast, P!nk had also developed her voice early in life and was even in her first band during high school. She wrote lyrics as a teenager, with her mom stating:
“Her initial writings were always very introspective. Some of it was very black, and very deep, almost worrisome.”
She began performing at various Philadelphia venues during her teenage years, which is when she adopted her colorful moniker. She later described that she took the name from a character in the Quentin Tarantino film Reservoir Dogs. She was then involved in a few girl groups in her teens, including one named Basic Instinct and another R&B group titled Choice. The latter band’s music wasn’t released and after some advice from music executive L.A. Reid, P!nk decided to go solo. She recalled in an interview with Variety:
“I had to be the one to decide to go solo and not L.A. Reid, my record company president, because that would be him interfering in a [pre-existing] contract,” says P!nk. “He told me behind the scenes: ‘If you don’t go solo, I’m never going to support you—however, it has to be your idea.’ So that was the first tricky part. It took me a long time to figure out and was horrifying and I felt like I was a huge piece of s**t. I threw up for a week thinking about these girls and what we had been through together and how unfair that was to them and just how absurd it all was.”
But despite the hardship, P!nk eventually came to the decision that she knew what she was destined for. She explains:
“And I remember talking about it on the phone and [L.A. Reid] said: ‘Babe, when you pictured yourself as a little girl up on stage, did you picture yourself in a group or did you picture yourself ramming your f–ing stubborn-ass head through the world by yourself?’ And I was like: ‘That.’ And he was like: ‘Then, don’t waste the rest of your life because of guilt.’”
Before long P!nk had released her debut album Can’t Take Me Home, which featured the lead single There You Go, which happened to land in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100—a surefire sign of her success to come. Her second album Missundaztood secured her name as a pop star to watch and since then her career has only gone from strength to strength.
Over the last two decades, P!nk’s music and showmanship have inspired many, but mostly her message is one of empowerment. She is a true role model to everybody out there, especially women and young girls, who often feel the pressures of conforming to society’s expectations. She also sent a strong message to her daughter Willow a few years ago when she won at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards. She recounted how she had a conversation with Willow where the young girl said she was the “ugliest girl I know” and that she looked “like a boy with long hair.” P!nk went on to inspire her daughter by showing her androgynous rock stars including David Bowie, Michael Jackson, and Annie Lennox, before telling her:
“So, baby girl, we don’t change. We take the gravel in the shell and we make a pearl. And we help other people to change so that they can see more kinds of beauty…and you, my darling girl, are beautiful. I love you.”
P!nk is an amazing woman and musician with integrity behind her actions, so it’s absolutely fitting that she’d team up with another empowering female musician, Sarah McLachlan, to deliver such an inspiring and heartfelt duet. We love both of these artists and women and can only hope they team up again in the future!
Are you a fan of Sarah McLachlan and P!nk? Does this song bring someone special to mind? Use the space below to leave a few comments about your own experiences. Also, make sure that your friends and family also get to enjoy this incredible performance!