Honorary Colonel McKennitt began her musical career by busking with her harp and starting running her own record label, Quinlan Road, from her kitchen table. More than two decades later, Manitoba-born McKennitt has seen her "eclectic Celtic" blend of pop, folk and world music span eight studio recordings, a live double CD and two DVD's. They have gone on to sell over 14 million copies worldwide and achieve gold, platinum and multi-platinum status in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Greece and Turkey.
Honorary Colonel McKennitt's newest studio album, A Midwinter Night's Dream, was released in the fall of 2008. This followed a limited release of the tour documentary, a Moveable Musical Feast, which was shot during her 2007 "An Ancient Muse" tour. Recorded at Peter Gabriel's Real World Studios, A Midwinter Night's Dream is a collection of seasonal music as seen through Honorary Colonel McKennitt's broad lens of influences ranging from Celtic to classical to Middle Eastern. Honorary Colonel McKennitt had Top 20 Billboard single and album success with the 1997 hit album The Book Of Secrets and its lead track "The Mummers' Dance." Her international tours have taken her around the world, with performances for such dignitaries as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in honour of The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002.
As a composer, Honorary Colonel McKennitt has written music for productions at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario and the National Film Board of Canada. She has three feature length filmscores to her credit and has contributed to several soundtracks for both film and television, the most recent being Disney's fall 2008 DVD release Tinker Bell. In 2007, Honorary Colonel McKennitt was nominated for a Grammy Award and was the recipient of a North American Folk Alliance Award. She has also won two Junos, Canada's premier music award, in addition to a Billboard International Achievement Award.As founder of The Cook-Rees Memorial Fund for Water Search and Safety, she has been recognized for her civic and community service, raising nearly four million dollars through the sale of Live in Paris and Toronto to advance water safety education and research.
Honorary Colonel McKennitt has also established The Three Oaks Foundation, a fund which supports cultural, environmental, historical and family groups.
Her extensive charitable and community work has seen her awarded the Order of Canada, the Order of Manitoba and honorary doctorates from the University of Manitoba, Wilfrid Laurier University and Queen's University. In 1981, Honorary Colonel McKennitt moved to Stratford, ON where she still resides today and is an active member of her community.