Yes, Sarah McLachlan grew up in Halifax, but she hasn’t lived here in almost 20 years and isn’t deserving of a local artist award (sorry ECMAs). She is, however, one of the best Canadian artists, man or woman, to emerge in the last 20 years. From her 1988 debut Touch to her latest international smash Afterglow, McLachlan has consistently written successful pop albums—over 22 million sold—without compromising the depth or substance of her material. She’s also used her success to help others: Her Lilith Fair tours showcased rising and established female artists together for over two million fans worldwide while raising $7 million for various charities. McLachlan is one of the few bright lights in Canada’s otherwise shoddy list of international musical success stories, so even though it’s a little embarrassing when Haligonians publicly trumpet the fact that she’s originally from here, it’s not hard to see why they do.
Runner-up: Sarah Harmer