Loreena McKennit Explains What's In A Mummer

Loreena McKennit's "Mummer's Dance" [600k QuickTime], with it's etherial Celtic vocals and howling accordian, has become an unlikely video hit.

The Canadian vocalist had been classified as a world music act, but she's also surfaced on Billboard's modern rock charts and even the adult top 40, thanks to a "Mummer's Dance" remix by DNA, who you may recall did a funky revamp of "Tom's Diner" by Suzanne Vega a few years back.

McKennit's music draws heavily on Celtic folk as well as other world music influences and incorporates instruments ranging from the harp to the Indian tamboura. Her lyrics also have traditional folk roots as in "Mummer's Dance," which is based on an old European tree-worshipping celebration.

"Mummers would appear sometimes in Ireland around New Year's, around the time of a wedding. At the time of the wedding they'd be referred to as the straw boys, and people would dress up in straw and costumes and

they'd go to their neighbor's place -- they wouldn't say anything -- but they'd come in and dance the Irish equivalent of square dancing," McKennit told MTV News recently.

"It seems the origins are pre-Christian. And there's a great lineage of events ranging across Europe that are connected with the mummers' rituals."

McKennit plans to tour the U.S. this Spring.