Natalie MacMaster is a Cape Breton-bred fiddle player about whom a Boston Herald music reviewer wrote,
“To call Natalie MacMaster the most dynamic performer in Celtic music today is high praise, but it still doesn’t get at just how remarkable a concert artist this Cape Breton Island fiddler has become.”
McMaster began playing the fiddle at the age of 9 and began performing in the same year. She released her first album at 16 and has never looked back, step dancing and fiddling in a wide array of styles – Scottish, Irish, American Bluegrass, Cape Breton – based in a traditional Cape Breton groove. Over a three-decade career to date, she has launched multiple gold albums. She’s been recognized with awards from all across North America. She has collaborated with many artists including a recording with cellist Yo-yo Ma that won a Grammy.
A week ago I went to see her perform at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston. She appeared with five of her six children (now ages 11, 9, 7, 6, and 4) all of whom play and step dance) and her husband, Donnell Leahy, himself an extraordinary fiddler. The MacMaster – Leahy album, “One,” recently won the Canadian Folk Music Award for instrumental album of the year.
About two thirds of the way through the concert, she reflected a bit on her development and Donnell’s as fiddle players, wrapping up her comments by saying, “And, you know, after all these years, we still practice.”
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