Sarah McLachlan, Monica, and other artists talk about the fest's most diverse lineup yet

By Sandra P. Angulo
April 28, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT
Lisa Rose/Globe

Lilith Fair’s third go-around — the 40-date festival kicks off July 8 in Vancouver — will be quite the musical stew, featuring a strong lineup of R&B, country, and pop performers. Watching Sarah McLachlan and Monica trade jokes with Beth Orton and Me’Shell Ndegeocello at Tuesday’s Manhattan press conference, you’d never guess that Lilith had been criticized for featuring mostly mainstream, white singer-songwriters. It has taken Lilith founder McLachlan two years to make the estrogen-empowered fest a must-play event — and the payoff is this summer’s broadest slate of artists (so far, 33 are confirmed, including Sheryl Crow, Queen Latifah, the Dixie Chicks, and Mya). ”With each year it has been a challenge to offer a unique and diverse bill,” McLachlan says. ”But as we’ve grown these past two years, artists from different genres have become more aware of the tour, and more people said yes.”

Lilith ’99’s newfound mix of musical styles is welcome, but whether fans of the Indigo Girls will sit tight for Monica’s set or will instead bolt for the food-and-trade village remains to be seen. McLachlan is optimistic. ”I think radio stations and studios like to pigeonhole artists into one genre, and that underestimates the audience and the artists,” she says. ”People aren’t coming just for one type of artist.” First-timer Monica hopes the festival’s diversity will add to her fan base. ”I feel like it exposes our albums to each other’s audiences,” she says. ”Maybe people who wouldn’t otherwise have heard my songs will go out and purchase my album.” Ndegeocello, who’s joining Lilith for a second year, says she’s excited about a more practical perk. ”It’s just great to go on a tour where the bathrooms are so clean.”