November 6, 2006
With a talent that remains both raw and wondrously refined, and backed by a band any top musician would be proud of, Natalie MacMaster has grown to become the musical face of Atlantic Canada, and continuously stuns crowds around the globe with her feverish fiddling and mesmerizing step dancing.
Well-known to international audiences as one of Canada’s major talents, Natalie has been an ambassador of traditional East Coast music, and is credited with exposing the style to its contemporary prominence. While acclaimed for taking Celtic music to new heights, each album Natalie releases displays a creativity and range that constantly pushes back the boundaries of the genre.
Natalie first picked up the fiddle at age nine and hasn’t looked back. The niece of famed Cape Breton fiddler Buddy MacMaster (with whom she recorded a tribute album in 2005), Natalie quickly became a major talent in her own right. After winning numeous awards for her early traditional recordings, Natalie’s subsequent releases have been boldly ground-breaking and well-adorned with abundant accolades.
With albums like In My Hands, which fused Jazz, Latin, and the guest vocals of Alison Krauss, and Grammy-nominated My Roots Are Showing, Natalie has proven time and time again that she is leaving her mark on music history.
Her last release, Blueprint, combined Natalie’s own musical radiance with the cream of American roots instrumentalists, including Béla Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush and Edgar Meyer, and won her “Best Female Artist of the Year” and “Best Roots/Traditional Solo Recording” at the East Coast Music Awards in 2005.
Two of her CD’s have charted on Billboard’s Top 20 Selling World Music charts. Four of her previous five CD releases have been certified “gold” (50,000+) in Canada.
Natalie’s live performances are renowned for their incandescent energy and toe-tapping, rhythmic intensity. She has shared the stage with Santana, The Chieftains, Paul Simon, Pavarotti, Faith Hill, Don Henley, Michael McDonald and dozens of distinguished symphony orchestras, and has appeared on network television many times including Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien and Good Morning America. All of Natalie’s shows resound with what the Los Angeles Times described as “irresistible, keening passion.”
In 2002, Natalie married fellow fiddle virtuoso Donnell Leahy of the famed Canadian band Leahy, and in 2005 the couple were proud to announce the birth of their first child, Mary Frances Rose. Motherhood has barely slowed Natalie, and she has already begun the touring-with-baby experience with the help of her mother. “Having someone you trust on tour with you to help take care of your child is a must,” she says.
Natalie has a Bachelor of Education degree from the Nova Scotia Teachers College, and has received honorary doctorates from St. Thomas University and Niagara University. She was also awarded the prestigious Order of Canada in July 2006.
In 2005 Natalie and Donnell launched an internet radio show called “Cape Breton Live” which features live performances of musicians in traditional venues across the East Coast. Earlier in the year, Natalie played a moving tribute at New York’s Carnegie Hall to journalist and news anchor Peter Jennings, who had been one of Natalie’s greatest fans.
This fall Natalie is set to release her 10th recording, an album called Yours Truly, and music aficionados and fans across North America and beyond eagerly await its debut.