Preparation for the 1973 Festival of Cape Breton Fiddling in Glendale gave birth to the Cape Breton Fiddlers’ Association. The Association’s main mandate has been to preserve and promote traditional Cape Breton fiddle music. In 1998, the Association celebrated its 25th anniversary with two hundred and two fiddlers on stage at the Gaelic College. Ten years later, nearly one hundred members embarked on a ten-day tour of Scotland. By providing workshops and opportunities to learn new tunes and techniques, publishing tunes, and providing venues for musicians, the Cape Breton Fiddlers’ Association is flourishing. In 2013, the Association will welcome several fiddle groups to celebrate the 40th Festival of Cape Breton Fiddling.
The Cape Breton Chorale has been thrilling audiences since its formation over thirty years ago. The Chorale has given more than 200 performances throughout the Maritimes, England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland. The Chorale has shared the stage with a variety of musical stars, ranging from Celine Dion to Rita MacNeil and has performed before numerous visiting dignitaries including Queen Elizabeth II. In its three plus decades, the Cape Breton Chorale has released five albums and demonstrated, through its versatility and repertoire, its well-deserved reputation for excellence.
Brandi McCarthy is a fiddler and step dancer from Port Hawkesbury who began dancing at the age of 6 and fiddling at age 9. She has further developed her style and repertoire by attending workshops, ceilidhs, and square dances around Cape Breton. She also teaches locally and abroad. While in University, Brandi spent a year living in Ireland, busking and attending traditional music festivals, workshops and sessions. She has studied Irish Dancing in Galway, Limerick and Dublin, and continues to pursue her interest in Irish Dancing, recently attending the Stanford School of Irish Dance while living in Fredericton.
A triple nominee at the 2011 East Coast Music Awards, Carmel has always been a songwriter. From her childhood on a family farm in rural Cape Breton to her current “home” on the road, Carmel has built her life around crafting songs, collecting stories, and carving poetry out of the human experience. Carmel’s songwriting has garnered her international attention, winning the folk category in the 2010 Great American Song Contest and International Singer Songwriter Awards Song Contest. This is Carmel’s third appearance at Celtic Colours since making her festival debut in 2010 with Roots to the Future, a popular concert which put young Cape Breton songwriters and tune makers together to explore how tradition influences contemporary artists.
Carmen Townsend is a four-time Music Nova Scotia Award winning artist and has most recently picked up an East Coast Music Award for Rising Star Recording of the Year. Upon releasing her debut album, Waitin’ and Seein’, in January 2011, the Cape Breton born and raised singer/songwriter was selected to be the opening act for legendary rock group Heart’s cross Canada tour. Songs from her award-winning album have been featured in several television series and film and she has performed and showcased internationally at SXSW, The Great Escape Festival, Liverpool Sound City and in Australia. Carmen has performed with Halifax, Nova Scotia-based Jubilee Swing Orchestra and is currently working on her second album.
Carolyn Lionais is a local twenty-something. Born and raised in beautiful Bras d’Or, she grew up surrounded by music in her family home. She learned to play the guitar around the age of 11 and has been writing and singing ever since. Never professionally, for the joy of it only. Professionally, Carolyn has been practicing nursing since 2007. Her voice and music can be heard in quiet bars, living rooms, long car rides, short films, background vocals and local EP’s circa 2004.
Allan’s background in the Cape Breton musical tradition allowed him to accompany fiddlers like Jerry Holland for dances and ceilidhs and new generation fiddlers like Troy MacGillivray, Andrea Beaton and Shelly Campbell. Allan started playing guitar, but by the age of 8 he began to follow along on piano while his mother was playing solos and to tunes on the radio. At 13, he moved to Antigonish where he soon became a regular at dances, filling in for sets to give the piano player a break. Since then, Allan has toured around the world with Jerry Holland, Ashley MacIsaac, Natalie MacMaster and Troy MacGillivray.
Amelie Larade is the daughter of Mark and Donna Larade. She is 10 years old and has been dancing since the age of 5. In that time she has danced for Justin Trudeau and Roch Voisine. Amelie loves to dance and has been working for le Conseil des Arts since she started dancing. Christopher Poirier is a grade 5 student at NDA School in Cheticamp. He is 11 yearrs old and has been dancing since the age of 4. Chris is also a member of a group called Conseil des arts with whom he performs in plays all summer long. This is his second year dancing at Celtic Colours, and he really enjoyed his experience last year. In his career so far, Christopher, has had the opportunity to dance for the Governor General, Ashley MacIsaac, Roch Voisine and many more.