Lisa Ornstein, Normand Miron, and André Marchand are legends of Quebec’s traditional music scene. Between the three of them they have been on the roster of virtually every ground-breaking band over the past 30 years. Fiddler Lisa and guitarist/singer André first met as bandmates in La Bottine Souriante, Quebec’s longest-running powerhouse super group. Button-accordionist/singer Normand Miron and André are currently bandmates in Les Charbonniers de l’enfer (The Coalmen from Hell), an award-winning a-capella singing ensemble. Lisa, André and Normand have been playing as a trio since the 1990s, delighting audiences with their fiery dance music and finely-wrought vocals.
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No stranger to the Savoy, Marilyn is honoured to be part of this Rankin tribute. She began at a young age singing and accompanying her brother Howie on piano mainly in local venues. Her singing career began with the Johnny Aucoin Trio eventually releasing her first recording in 1990, My Love Cape Breton and Me. This past fall she released a second CD, Be Still. She has also provided back up vocals for Sam Moon, Chad Tetford and brother Howie. Proving an accomplished actress, Marilyn began with the Summertime Revue in 1990 and continued over the years with Howie’s Celtic Brew and several dinner theatres including Casino Nova Scotia.
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.
Kyle Mischiek is a teenage Pop/Hip Hop performer, and independent recording artist from Cape Breton. Kyle’s sophomore release “Fallin’ In Deep – EP” is a 7 song short album that offers a blend of hard hitting modern EDM tracks, ’90s R&B influenced slow jams, and some light pop-rap. Behind the scenes is ECMA winning producer Jamie Foulds, songwriting collaborations with the likes of Gordie Sampson, Steven MacDougall, Breagh MacKinnon, Dylan Guthro, and a couple of high energy club beats by Halifax artist MattyBoh. Kyle’s debut EP “570” featured the hit Cape Breton single “We are an Island Remix”. The song caught the attention of Cape Bretoners all over the world, and helped him attract over 170,000 YouTube hits.
Lucy MacNeil, the only girl in a family of five boys, may be described as the heart of The Barra MacNeils. Her crystalline vocals are immediately identifiable with the group’s sound. For Lucy, music has always had a heartbeat and she recalls it as the centre of her childhood home where family, neighbours and visiting musicians were often known to gather—the rhythm of everyone’s feet tapping with the music would lull her to sleep on many nights. Lucy’s own musical journey officially began when she was 9 years old, but even before that she was step dancing alongside her mother, a well-known local dancer and teacher. Her career with The Barra MacNeils has seen her opening tours for international stars such as Celine Dion, Kenny Rogers and Rita MacNeil.
Dry Bones is the perfect combination of contemporary songwriting highly influenced both by traditional music and by the great songwriters of earlier times. In some ways it’s like new wine in an old bottle, you can taste the freshness but the ghosts of time past weave their haunting melodic strands throughout the music. Nathan Rogers, Leonard Podolak (the Duhks) and J.D. Edwards are all very experienced players and composers who individually have cut their own wide swath within the folk world. Together they form an imposing musical troika not to be trifled with; they are the young giants who will lead others towards the future.
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.
Three talented Acadian musicians with deep roots in the Chéticamp region have been coming together since 2004 to share their community’s traditional songs and the stories behind them. Jean-René Bourgeois is 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. 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.