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.
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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.
Mac Morin is a dancer, piano and keyboard player from Troy, Cape Breton. Starting out as a talented dancer, Mac became interested in piano as a teenager and has gone on to tour around the world with Natalie MacMaster, Howie MacDonald, The Rankin Sisters, and Beòlach, among others. Mac has also appeared on a number of CDs by other artists including Buddy MacMaster, Glenn Graham and Troy MacGillivray. Mac released his first album, Mac Morin, in 2003 and is currently working on a new record. He continues to travel to teach Cape Breton step dancing. Mac will be performing with Mairi Rankin and Matt MacIsaac, Howie MacDonald, and Beòlach during Celtic Colours this year.
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.
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.
Mary Elizabeth MacInnis is Buddy MacMaster’s daughter. She began to play the piano by practicing along with tapes of her father. There are numerous home and dance recordings of Buddy spanning over forty years and they include a variety of accompanists including John Morris Rankin and Buddy’s sisters, Betty Lou, Genevieve and Lorraine. Many of these home tapes, with their long, extended sets, are perfect for learning tunes and practicing piano accompaniment. Mary Elizabeth was 14 when she first performed with her father in a concert at Judique Parish Hall and, a few years later, began playing with him at the Glencoe Mills dances. She has also traveled with her father to play in Boston, Washington and Toronto.
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.
Pianist Maybelle Chisholm McQueen comes from one of Cape Breton's best known musical families – the Chisholms of Margaree. Maybelle studied music with the Sisters of St. Martha for many years and this classical training shows up in her playing of Scottish tunes. She played her first dance at age ten with her uncles, Angus and Archie Neil Chisholm, and is recognized for her innovative rhythmic techniques. She has recorded with many Cape Breton fiddlers including her uncle Angus, Johnny Wilmot and Howie MacDonald. Maybelle’s latest recording, Pure Celtic Hearts, was released in 2001.