The Kitpu Singers were started 24 years ago by three brothers who still remain in the group. They formed a group with some of their closest friends and classmates at the time. Throughout the years they’ve grown to become a well respected and very popular group in their and other Mi’kmaq communities here in Cape Breton and on the mainland. Although they began as a strictly traditional singing group, they branched out and have won several drum competitions and awards and have been featured in the Walt Disney movie “Squanto: A warriors tale”.
Three talented Acadian musicians with deep roots in the Chéticamp region, have been coming together as a group since 2004 to share their community’s traditional songs and the stories behind them. Jean-René Bourgeois was a founding member of Les Habitants, a band that recorded and toured a repertoire of 18th century French music with many historical connections to Cape Breton’s Acadian song traditions. Marcel LeFort has been performing professionally since his early teens. His musical adaptability has thick Acadian roots and he has played with Cyril MacPhee, J.P. Cormier, Ronald Bourgeois and the Phantoms over the years. Robert Deveaux spent much of his youth in the dance halls of Cape Breton playing Scottish fiddle and piano before rekindling his relationship with traditional Acadian songs.
Singing in English, Scottish Gaelic and Irish, Lewis MacKinnon has performed in coffee shops, pubs and concert halls throughout Eastern Canada. MacKinnon has played in every Atlantic Canadian Province, Ontario, Scotland and Ireland. In 2007 he was a featured performer at the Féile Ámhranaíochta (The Irish Song Festival) in Belfast, where his Gaelic song “Ailean Duinn” was selected to be included in the Festival’s 2007 compilation CD. In 2006 he released an all Gaelic recording titled, A’ Seo (“Here”) which earned him an ECMA nomination in the Roots/Traditional category.
Lisa Cameron was raised among a musical family in Margaree Forks. Since the 2004 release of her album End Of Blue (produced by J.P. Cormier), Lisa has been no stranger to stages across Nova Scotia. She has been featured on CBC Radio, the 2005 ECMA stage, and the 2005 compilation Lullabies of Our Cape Breton which won a 2006 ECMA for Best Children’s Recording. For the past couple of years, Lisa has been playing local venues and writing with a small group of Cape Breton songwriters. She released her second record in the winter of 2009.
In 1987, using a harp loaned to her by the Clan MacNeil organization in Iona, Lucy MacNeil went to Houlton, Maine to study with Elizabeth Hannon from Ireland. Not long after, she wrote a tune called “The Lone Harper” that was included on a compilation album and the Barras MacNeils album “Rock In The Stream”. The harp was added to the instruments she already played with the group—fiddle and bodhran—but beyond Christmas shows it was used sparingly. Lucy is very much looking forward to revisiting the instrument and playing in concert this year with one of her favourite harp players, Laoise Kelly from Ireland.
Mary Jane is an experienced and internationally respected artist within the Celtic and world music genres. She is a leader in the preservation of Celtic heritage, and her expertise in the Gaelic culture has garnered her critical acclaim worldwide. She has released five albums: Bho Thir Nan Croabh (from the land of the trees) (1994); Suas e! (1997); Làn Dùil (1999); Gaelic Songs of Cape Breton (Orain Ghaidhlig) (2001) Her latest recording, the award-winning Storas (Gaelic meaning “a treasure”), is a stunning interpretation of Scottish Gaelic songs that have become part of Nova Scotia’s Gaelic tradition. Her hypnotic vocals and heartfelt delivery are complemented by modern instrumentation and arrangements.
Whether it’s the mesmerizing Gaelic vocals of Mary Jane Lamond or the superb musicianship of fiddler Wendy MacIsaac, these ladies have been making their mark with traditional audiences worldwide for over two decades. Wendy MacIsaac is a high energy fiddler, piano player and stepdancer from Creignish with three solo records to her credit. A favourite with traditional audiences everywhere, Wendy has toured all over the world as a solo performer and with The Rankins, Mary Jane Lamond, Ashley MacIsaac and Beòlach. Mary Jane’s sharing of time-honoured Gaelic songs and stories has earned her numerous Juno and ECMA nominations, critical acclaim and a worldwide audience. Her four recordings create a respectful and beautiful framework for ancient Gaelic songs and her spell-binding performances make these selections truly come alive. Established tradition bearers, both Mary Jane and Wendy have been recognized internationally for their solo music careers and are skilful and enthusiastic teachers in high demand at festivals worldwide.
Madison Violet is a Toronto-based duo, consisting of Cape Bretoners Lisa MacIsaac (vocals, guitar, fiddle, mandolin) and Brenley MacEachern (vocals, guitar, banjo, harmonica). Their first disc, “Worry the Jury” (2004), introduced the lush arrangements and radio-friendly harmonies that would become a Madison Violet hallmark, with their sophomore album “Caravan” (2006) further exploring and incorporating country-infused, toe-tapping melodies. Their breakthrough album, “No Fool for Trying” (2009) showcased Madison Violet’s heartfelt lyrics in brilliant contrast to their uplifting arrangements, pushing their graceful harmonies to the surface. With their newest album, The Good in Goodbye (2011), Madison Violet prove they’re among Canada’s brightest singer/songwriters.