The Men of the Deeps is a choir of working and retired coal miners from Cape Breton Island, organized in 1966 as part of Cape Breton’s contribution to Canada’s Centennial Year. The Men of the Deeps have released nine albums, been the subject of two NFB films and one book, toured around the world and frequently been featured on TV and radio. Today the Men of the Deeps are more than a singing group – it is a social institution. There is a camaraderie amongst the members of the group that carries over to their audiences wherever they perform.
Tracey Dares MacNeil is a piano player from Marion Bridge, Cape Breton County who has accompanied the finest fiddlers of this generation, and been featured as a soloist in concert and on recordings. Known for the quality and versatility she brings to her instrument, Tracey is one of those rare performers who can accompany other artists of varying musical styles with ease and sensitivity.
Stewart MacNeil is best known for being a member of the international recording group the Barra MacNeils – 6 siblings who have recorded and toured extensively for more than 25 years. He plays a multitude of instruments including accordion, piano, flute, whistles, bass, guitar, bouzouki, bodhran, pipe organ and harmonica. As an arranger, his stamp on The Barra MacNeils’ music has contributed to the band’s identity. A graduate of Mount Allison University with a major in classical piano, Stewart now spends much of his time learning Gaelic songs and is a dedicated student of the language.
Susan MacLean was born and raised in Washabuck and now resides in the Sydney area. She has performed with various Cape Breton musicians at dances, concerts and house rackets and has taught Cape Breton style piano accompaniment for many years at St. Ann’s Gaelic College. She is also a member of the Cape Breton Fiddlers’ Association, plays fiddle and writes music. Susan’s enthusiasm for Cape Breton style piano comes from influences within her own extended family including grandfather Michael Anthony MacLean, uncles Carl and Hector MacKenzie and cousins in the Barra MacNeils.
Whether playing piano or fiddle, or showcasing his stepdancing capabilities, Troy MacGillivray displays intense commitment to the Celtic heritage he inherited from his Highland ancestors. His versatility has had him performing across Canada and the US and overseas from Switzerland to Australia. Troy’s first three albums – Eleven (2005), Boomerang (2003) and Musical Ties (2001) were each nominated for East Coast Music Awards. His fourth album, Live At The Music Room, won the 2008 ECMA Instrumental Recording of the Year and When Here Meets There, recorded with Shane Cook, was named 2009 ECMA Roots/Traditional Group Album of the Year.
Vishten’s music is a hardy mixture of the French, Irish and Scottish styles of Eastern Canada, with fiery fiddling and powerful step dancing taking front and center. The rhythms and melodies are inseparable, and reflect a special joie de vivre unique to the Acadian culture, with flying fingers, tapping feet, and an unabashed sense of celebration.
Wendy MacIsaac is a fiddler, piano player, and stepdancer from Creignish, Inverness County. She is recognized as one of Cape Breton’s finest fiddlers, having toured the world with Mary Jane Lamond, Beolach, The Cheiftains and on her own. Wendy has released three albums-The Reel Thing, That’s What You Get, and Timeline and has taught step-dancing at festivals and workshops around the world.
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 seven albums, the most recent being Different Strokes with Different Folks (2011). Her recordings have been well received, and many players have learned her compositions. Brenda’s music has taken her to Ireland, Scotland, Mexico and hundreds of places around Canada and the US.