Brenda Stubbert is an extraordinary fiddler, pianist, and composer from Cape Breton. Two books of her compositions are in print, and her tunes are in repertoires everywhere Celtic fiddle music can be heard. Brenda is in constant demand throughout Cape Breton. Her dances are lively and well attended. Since 1986, Brenda has released 7 albums, including Endless Memories (2008) which won the East Coast Music Award for Traditional Recording of the Year, and her most recent, Different Strokes with Different Folks (2011).
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Bob Quinn is the composer behind the widely known song, “My Love, Cape Breton & Me”, which is found on Natalie MacMaster’s Blueprint album as recorded by her cousin, Kate. Jennifer (Whalen) Quinn performed often with Nova Scotia favourites John Allan Cameron and Anne Murray. Together, they will come together to celebrate Jennifer’s uncle, Buddy MacMaster, for the festival this year.
Preparation for the 1973 Festival of Cape Breton Fiddling in Glendale gave birth to the Cape Breton Fiddlers’ Association whose main mandate has been to preserve and promote traditional Cape Breton fiddle music. In 1998, the Association celebrated its 25th anniversary with 202 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.
The Cape Breton Chorale has been thrilling audiences since its formation in 1973. In the 40 years since, 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. The Cape Breton Chorale has released five albums and demonstrated, through its versatility and repertoire, its well-deserved reputation for excellence.
Chrissy Crowley, Rachel Davis, Colin Grant, Jason Roach and Darren McMullen got together in 2010 for a tour promoting Celtic Colours. The engaging line-up of well-known solo acts—featuring expertly-played fiddle, piano, guitar, mandolin, whistle and banjo—enjoyed playing together so much that they decided to continue to perform as Còig whenever their busy solo careers allowed. With their driving tunes, haunting songs and infectious energy, Còig has proven to be a serious force to be reckoned with on the traditional music scene. They released their debut recording in June.
Dannsa are gaining great respect in Scotland and abroad for their traditional and innovating dancing. Believing the relationship between the music and dance is fundamental to the spirit and style, core dancers Caroline Reagh and Sandra Robertson, and piper and stepdancer Fin Moore always dance to live music – fiddle, pipes and Gaelic song. Rounding out the lineup for Celtic Colours are original member Frank McConnell, Artist in Residence Mac Morin from Cape Breton, and Scottish fiddler Sarah Hoy.
Helen MacDonald and Dawn MacDonald-Gillis began step dancing at the ages of 5 and 8 under the tutelage of Kaye Hanrahan in New Waterford. With strong ties to the Iona area, they grew up surrounded by traditional Cape Breton music. By the time they had reached their teen years, their synchronized footwork saw them invited to perform in many concerts in Cape Breton and beyond. They began teaching step dancing, both privately and for other dancing schools in the industrial Cape Breton area. They both continue to teach step dance workshops.
Dawn and Margie Beaton have been performing at concerts, ceilidhs and festivals since they were very young. They have performed in the Maritimes, Scotland, Ireland, France, USA, England, Brazil and China, and been featured internationally on television, radio and video. A fixture at Celtic Colours since the festival began, they were chosen as recipients of the Frank Sampson Award in 2008. The Award helped them record their first CD, “Taste of Gaelic”. The unique and traditional album with tunes composed by Dawn and Margie, won an East Coast Music Award in 2010 for Roots/Traditional Album of the Year.