Natalie MacMaster, five-time Canadian Country Music Association's Fiddler of the Year, is an icon in her country. The dazzling performer with blonde curls, baby face, flying fingers, and step-dancing feet is also an international phenomenon.
It all started in 1973 on the island of Cape Breton, with Natalie's birth into a famous family of Celtic musicians. Uncle Buddy MacMaster, Natalie's first teacher, was Canada's top fiddler. Cousin Ashlie MacIsaacs, another Uncle Buddy student, also made a name of his own. He and Natalie had fiddling duels - even taking on their mentor - at many a family gathering.
In her teens, Natalie MacMaster self-produced two cassettes, now collectors' items, FOUR ON THE FLOOR and ROAD TO THE ISLE. After winning the title Fiddler of the Year for the first time, she caught the attention of record producers. The result was her first Cd, FIT AS A FIDDLE, recorded at CBC Studios in 1993.
The young fiddling sensation began a touring career that earned her the title 'Busiest woman in the Canadian music business.' She has played everywhere from Antarctica to Hollywood, to the concert halls of Europe backed up by major world symphonies. Early in her career she turned down an offer to be a featured member of Lord of the Dance, in favor of developing her own performing environment. Her rapport with audiences is legendary. Reviewers use words like 'glorious' to describe her music, but her exuberant stage persona consistently astonishes. One reviewer said, 'Natalie Macmaster came onstage at a near gallop and the energy built from there.' Her feet never stop while she's playing - Natalie believes that music is for dancing. Fans buy tickets for her concerts anticipating SEEING her, as much as hearing.
TV is a natural medium for Natalie MacMaster's style. She won a 'Gemini' award (Canada's Emmy equivalent) and was selected for ABC's New Year's Eve broadcasts at the request of Peter Jennings. Other sorts of awards and accolades include two Junos (Canada's top music award), a Grammy nomination, and having two Cds on Billboard's Top 20 sellers in the World Music category.
What earns this dynamo the admiration of fans and critics alike is how she takes her fiddle into new musical realms while building upon her traditional Celtic roots. It's a fine line that has caused others to stumble, while Natalie MacMaster thrives. Her 1996 Cd NO BOUNDARIES delivers on its title, while 1998's MY ROOTS ARE SHOWING was as strictly Cape Breton 'ceilidh' as one could get. 1999 saw the release of BLUEPRINT, which includes an Irish accordionist, flamenco guitarists, and some bluegrass greats such as Bela Fleck, the incomparable banjo player, and vocalist Alison Krause, with whom Natalie performed a top single duet, 'In My Hands.' LIVE is a two-Cd package - one with Natalie's Celtic rock band complete with synthesizer, drums, and electric bass, while the other is pure acoustic Cape Breton again.
Ah, Cape Breton. Always, Cape Breton. She never strays far in spirit from her home. On the road constantly, composing, performing and opening for performers such as Santana, Paul Simon and Alison Krause, Natalie MacMaster aligns with other influences that her ever creative talents thrive upon, but Cape Breton is ever at her fingertips.
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