Howie MacDonald is a well-respected fiddler from Westmount, Cape Breton County. He has released nine albums of his own and has spent many years touring and recording with the Rankin Family. Howie has expanded his talents and gained popularity as a comedian recently for his roles in musical comedy revues Island Mania, Howie’s Celtic Brew and The Dance Last Night. Howie is also very much in demand for dances, concerts, ceilidhs and recording sessions and can be counted on to pop up in the most unexpected musical circumstances.
The Iona Gaelic Singers are just a few of our remaining native Gaelic Speakers on Cape Breton Island. They have an unrivaled passion for the preservation and presentation of Gaelic songs, specifically Gaelic milling songs, composed both here in Cape Breton and from the Old Country, Scotland.
J.P. Cormier is a gifted multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter who reads the times with songs. He has released more than a dozen records including two career retrospectives, and a book of the tunes featured on his guitar album. J.P.’s impressive body of work has earned him a vast and loyal fan base and multiple award nominations and wins, including 12 East Coast Music Awards, Canadian Folk Music Award, 5 Music Nova Scotia Awards, Juno nominations, commendations from the Governor General of Canada and Premier of Nova Scotia.
Clifford (Ciffie) Carter is a lifelong resident of Samsonville in Richmond County. He has been playing guitar since he was 12 years old and has played with all the best fiddlers on the island including Buddy MacMaster, Kinnon Beaton and Winston Scotty Fitzgerald. In 1954 he recorded with Winston. More recently he has played sessions with J.P. Cormier. He also plays fiddle and mandolin and takes part in the Judique Guitar Society sessions. “Ciffie” is in demand as both an accompanist and soloist. This year at Celtic Colours he will be playing with Richmond County fiddler and dancer Allie Mombourquette.
Core Gaelic programming in Nova Scotia allows for the enhancement of Gaelic Language instruction while creating Gaelic speaking environments for students in Grades 4 – 9. Teaching methods focus on functional language, song, drama, an exploration of a lived Nova Scotia Gaelic heritage, and the opportunity for children to use Gaelic for social interaction amongst themselves as well as with the local Gaelic speaking community. The program provides a natural stepping stone in preserving, maintaining and developing the Gaelic Language.
Growing up just outside of St. Peter’s in a musical family, Cyril MacPhee was immersed in Cape Breton ceilidhs and heavily influenced by his father’s Scottish and Irish fiddling, Country and Bluegrass music, and Folk singers like Stan Rogers. His musical influences are extremely varied, from the Beatles to Harry Hibbs, and this shows through in his songwriting and musical style. MacPhee has a versatility in his music that is a truly unique blend of folk, country and Celtic music. He has released five albums, three with the popular power-folk group Brakin’ Tradition and two as a solo artist.
Décota McNamara’s unique sound–which blends traditional bluegrass, celtic and Acadian roots with contemporary pop and country rock flavors–is capturing the hearts of a swiftly growing fan base. Moving effortlessly between acoustic and electric guitar, banjo, mandolin and dobro, Décota’s command of string instruments is as impressive as his rich vocals and clever songwriting. Overflowing with energy and charisma, Décota is a top-notch entertainer whether playing in kitchens, pubs or concert halls.
Donna-Marie is sixteen year old fiddler from River Tillard, Richmond County, who has been playing fiddle for 6 years. She started out taking fiddle lessons from Shelly Campbell, and then added group lessons with Eddy Rodgers. Donna-Marie lists Shelly Campbell as a big influence on her playing and also likes to listen to tunes by Shelly Campbell, Donald Angus Beaton, John Morris Rankin, and Kinnon Beaton.