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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Since getting their start at a late night session during the 1998 Celtic Colours International Festival, Beòlach has established itself as one of Cape Breton’s most exciting and innovative traditional bands. Performing a lively mix of Cape Breton, Scottish and Irish tunes, the group features Mairi Rankin (fiddle, step-dance), Wendy MacIsaac (fiddle, piano, step-dance), Patrick Gillis (guitar), Ryan J. MacNeil (pipes, whistles), and Mac Morin (piano). Beòlach has released two albums, Beòlach (2001) and Variations (2004), which were both nominated for East Coast Music Awards. It is a true pleasure to welcome them back together at Celtic Colours this year.
Betty Lou Beaton began playing the piano at the age of five. Although she has a couple of years of piano training, all her Cape Breton piano playing is done by ear. At fourteen years of age, she started playing dances with her brother Buddy and has been accompanying fiddlers for dancers ever since. She is most often paired with her husband, fiddler Kinnon Beaton, and the duo is in high demand to play for dances.
Sheumas, the eldest of six siblings who make up the Barra MacNeils, began playing piano at a very young age. He soon teamed up with his younger, fiddle-playing brother Kyle and the duo performed regularly at local square dances. Together they set the stage for what is now the Barra MacNeils. Sheumas studied music at Mount Allison University where he received his Bachelor of Music Major in Pipe Organ.
A native of Sydney Mines, Cape Breton, Leanne comes from a family steeped in music and tradition. She has performed in many parts of Canada, the US and Ireland. Her debut album, All Set, which features Tracey Dares-MacNeil, Dave MacIsaac as well as members of her family, was recognized in 2008 by the East Coast Music Association and was nominated in the category of Roots/Traditional Solo Recording of the Year. Now living in Halifax, Leanne also gives lessons in Cape Breton Stepdancing.
Cape Breton fiddler Kimberley Fraser has built a distinguished career, performing all over the world at venues from Afghanistan to Victoria. She holds degrees in Violin performance from Berklee College of Music where she was a member of The Berklee World Strings and also a degree in Celtic Studies and Jazz Piano from St Francis Xavier University. A master at the trio of fiddling, step dancing and piano, Kimberley is a much sought-after performer and teacher for all three. She has performed at Celtic Colours annually since 2000, and this year is one of the Celtic Colours Artists in Residence.
For as long as they can remember, Ciarán and Fiona MacGillivray have been performing for the many musical visitors who pass through their home on Cape Breton Island. (Ciarán and Fiona are the children of famed Canadian author/composer, Allister MacGillivray). Besides singing, they play piano, guitar, harp, tin whistle, and bodhrán. They also stepdance, and are studying the Gaelic language of their ancestors. They have appeared together in the Cape Breton Summertime Revue and continue to perform with The Cottars.
Mario Colosimo has been providing piano accompaniment to island musicians for over 30 years. Although classically trained, he plays every style of music from Celtic to Swing. He has lent his piano, guitar and vocal talents to many local bands and artists and regularly shares piano duties with Jean MacNeil at Rollie’s Wharf’s Thursday night traditional session. Mario operates a music studio in Dominion where he teaches guitar, fiddle, piano and piano accompaniment. In 2010, Mario collaborated with Paul Cranford on his Tunes from the Lighthouse Collection and recorded a double CD called More Tunes from the Lighthouse. He also worked with Cranford in 2011 transcribing songs for The Celtic Colours Collection.