Early Studies and Career
Recordings, Awards, and Activities 1989 -Present
In 1996 MacMaster signed a recording contract with Warner Music Canada and released her debut album, No Boundaries. During the same year she guest-hosted CBC Radio's Atlantic Airwaves and began to teach at fiddler Mark O'Connor's annual Nashville music camp. Her teaching methodology was captured in the 1997 video Fiddle Lesson with Natalie MacMaster (NMAS V 1997 MacMaster Music). In both 1997 and 1998 MacMaster was named fiddler of the year at the Canadian Country Music Awards.
Her traditional album, My Roots Are Showing (1998, CDTRAX 163 Greentrax), won best instrumental album at the 1999 Juno Awards, and in 2000 was nominated for a Grammy Award in the best traditional folk music category.
Attempting to break through to US audiences, in 1999 Rounder Records released In My Hands (2 28398 WEA). She provided her first vocals on the title track. In 2000 In My Hands won the Juno Award for best instrumental album.
Natalie MacMaster toured North America, Denmark, the UK, Italy, Germany, New Zealand and Japan. In the LA Times, Don Heckman described MacMaster's live performances as "the work of a world music star with real crossover potential." Advertising campaigns (such as a national television commercial for Tim Horton's doughnuts) commissioned her dynamic image to promote their products. MacMaster's "supermodel beauty" (Globe and Mail, 2 April 1997) did not negate her fiddling genius.
In 2001 she performed on an ABC New Year's Eve television broadcast. Her independently produced CBC-TV special aired later that year. During 2002 MacMaster recorded Live (2 40934 WEA) and wed fiddler Donnell Leahy.
In 2003 MacMaster released Blueprint (82876-56971-2 ViK). Co-produced in Nashville by Darol Anger and MacMaster, the album fused traditional Cape Breton fiddling with bluegrass. She launched an extensive North American tour, playing with various musicians and orchestras, including the Boston Pops. She became a member of the Order of Canada in 2006.
Author C. Gillard
Harder, Steve. "The Cape Breton music of Natalie MacMaster," Bluegrass Canada Magazine, 6, no 4, Nov/Dec 1994
Neister, Alan. "Cape Breton harbours talent," Globe and Mail, 2 Apr 1997
Don Heckman. "New Divas Crowding Onto the Scene," LA Times, 7 Apr 2000
Christie, Rod. "Natalie MacMaster," Canadian Musician, 22, no 4, Jul/Aug 2000
McKeough, Kevin. "Country Cousin," Strings, 17, no 8, Issue 110, May/June 2003
Links to Other Sites
The website for the award-winning band “Leahy.” Features current news, profiles, and a discography with audio clips.
Cape Breton Celtic Festivals
Dedicated to Celtic music, song, and dance. Click on the "Celtic Colours" link for the latest festival highlights and biographies of participating musicians. Requires various media players. From the Virtual Museum of Canada.
The website for Natalie MacMaster, renowned fiddler in the East Coast traditional style. Features a bio, discography, sound clips, and more.
Cape Breton Tunebooks
The website for the Maple Leaf Music Company, a great source for in-print Cape Breton tunebooks.
Shawnadithit grew anxious waiting for her uncle, Longnon, to return to camp at the junction of Badger Brook and the Exploits River, deep in the wilds of Newfoundland...