With a talent that remains both raw and wondrously refined, and backed by a band any top musician would be proud of, Natalie MacMaster continues to stun 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 for traditional East Coast music, and is credited with lifting 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 expands 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 numerous awards for her early traditional recordings, Natalie’s subsequent releases have been boldly ground-breaking and received with abundant accolades.
With albums like In My Hands (Rounder), which fused Jazz, Latin, and the guest vocals of label mate Alison Krauss, and the Grammy-nominated My Roots Are Showing (Rounder), Natalie has proven time and time again that she is making her mark on music history. 2003’s remarkable Blueprint (Rounder) combined Natalie’s own musical radiance with the cream of American roots instrumentalists, including Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, and Edgar Meyer, and won her “Best Female Artist of the Year” and “Best Roots/Traditional Solo Recording” at Canada’s East Coast Music Awards in 2005. Two of Natalie’s CDs have charted on Billboard's Top 20 Selling World Music charts, while four of her previous five CD releases have been certified “gold” (50,000 +) in Canada. 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. In July of 2006, Natalie was one of the youngest people ever named a member of the prestigious Order of Canada – Canada’s highest civilian honor.
Available October 10, Yours Truly is MacMaster’s tenth album, and a return to the more wide-ranging stylings of In My Hands. Co-produced by Natalie and her husband, fellow fiddle virtuoso Donnell Leahy of the famed Canadian band Leahy, Yours Truly finds her continuing to ingeniously incorporate new sounds and concepts into her rich Cape Breton musical heritage, proudly claiming a place for the timeless strains of her native traditions in today’s musical universe. Exploratory, yet firmly grounded, this album benefits greatly from Mac Master’s carefully balancing of the contributions of her dynamic regular band with those of a host of special guests, including such acoustic music luminaries as Rushad Eggleston (cello), Natalie Haas (cello), and Jens Krüger (banjo). The album boasts a moving version of the classic “Danny Boy” featuring a lead vocal by pop superstar Michael McDonald. Overall, the sound is steeped in the driving rhythms and soaring tonalities unique to Cape Breton, with MacMaster’s trademark intensity and brilliance shining throughout.
In 2005, Natalie and Donnell launched an Internet radio show entitled Cape Breton Live, which features live performances of musicians in traditional venues along 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. The bittersweet track “Farewell to Peter” is one of the emotional highpoints of Yours Truly.
MacMaster and Leahy were proud to announce the birth of their first child, Mary Frances Rose in 2005. Motherhood has barely slowed Natalie, however, 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’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 national television programs such as The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, ABC’s New Year’s Eve special “ABC 2002” and Good Morning America. Through it all, Natalie’s performances have resounded with what the Los Angeles Times described as “irresistible, keening passion.”