Natalie MacMaster

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Natalie MacMaster
MacMaster performing in Centralville, Massachusetts, 2007
MacMaster performing in Centralville, Massachusetts, 2007
Background information
Birth nameNatalie Ann MacMaster
Born (1972-06-13) June 13, 1972 (age 50)
Troy, Nova Scotia, Canada
GenresCape Breton fiddle music
Instrument(s)Fiddle, Piano, Vocals
Years active1989–present
LabelsRounder Records

Natalie MacMaster CM ONS (born June 13, 1972) is a Canadian fiddler from Troy, Inverness County, Nova Scotia who plays Cape Breton fiddle music. MacMaster has toured with the Chieftains, Faith Hill, Carlos Santana, and Alison Krauss, and has recorded with Yo-Yo Ma. She has appeared at the Celtic Colours festival in Cape Breton, Celtic Connections in Scotland, and MerleFest in the United States.


MacMaster & Donnell Leahy performing together at the 2018 Burlington's Sound of Music Festival

MacMaster is the daughter of Alex and Minnie (née Beaton) MacMaster and the sister of Kevin and David MacMaster. She is the niece of the late renowned Cape Breton fiddler Buddy MacMaster and the cousin of two other fiddlers, Ashley MacIsaac and Andrea Beaton. She is also distantly related to Jack White.[1]

In 2002, she married fiddler Donnell Leahy of the Leahy family band, and moved to Lakefield, Ontario. Leahy and MacMaster have seven children, and have performed and recorded together as a duo, and occasionally include their children, who also play fiddle, in their performances.[2][3]

Musical career[edit]

MacMaster began playing the fiddle at the age of nine,[4] and made her performing debut the same year at a square dance in Glencoe Mills, Nova Scotia.[citation needed] When she was sixteen she released her first album, Four on the Floor, and a second album, Road to the Isle, followed in 1991. Her first album was self-produced,[4] while her second was co-produced by John Morris Rankin (The Rankin Family) and Tom O'Keefe (as per original cassette jacket). Both albums were initially released only on cassette, but Rounder Records omitted a few tracks and re-released as A Compilation in 1998. In 1999, she performed at the Juno Awards show in Hamilton.[5]

In recent years she has expanded her musical repertoire, mixing her Cape Breton roots with music from Scotland and Ireland, as well as American bluegrass.[6]

In 2004, MacMaster appeared on Sharon, Lois & Bram's 25th Anniversary Concert special titled "25 Years of Skinnamarink" that aired on CBC on January 1, 2004 at 7:00pm. She performed two songs with the trio: "C-H-I-C-K-E-N" and "Grandpa's Farm".


She has received a number of Canadian music awards, including several "Artist of the Year" awards from the East Coast Music Association, two Juno Awards for best instrumental album, and "Fiddler of the Year" from the Canadian Country Music Association. MacMaster was also awarded an honorary doctorate from Niagara University in New York in 2006. In 2006, she was made a member of the Order of Canada, and in 2020, she was made a member of the Order of Nova Scotia.[7][8]



Title Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
CAN US Heat US Indie US Folk US Grass
Four on the Floor
  • Release date: 1989
  • Label: Astro Custom Records
Road to the Isle
  • Release date: 1991
  • Label: Astro Custom Records
Fit as a Fiddle
  • Release date: 1993
  • Label: Rounder Records
A Compilation
  • Release date: 1996
  • Label: Rounder Records
No Boundaries
  • Release date: March 11, 1997
  • Label: Rounder Records
  • CAN: Gold
In My Hands
  • Release date: September 14, 1999
  • Label: Rounder Records
  • CAN: Gold
My Roots Are Showing
  • Release date: April 11, 2000
  • Label: Rounder Records
  • Release date: June 4, 2002
  • Label: Rounder Records
  • Release date: September 9, 2003
  • Label: Rounder Records
Natalie & Buddy MacMaster: Traditional Music from Cape Breton Island
  • Release date: August 18, 2005
Yours Truly
  • Release date: October 3, 2006 (Canada), October 10, 2006 (USA)
  • Label: Rounder Records
Cape Breton Girl
  • Release date: November 1, 2011
  • Label: MacMaster Music
One (with Donnell Leahy)
  • Release date: April 28, 2015
  • Label: DLL/MacMaster Music
23 4 15 6
A Celtic Family Christmas (with Donnell Leahy)
  • Release date: 2016
  • Release date: November 1, 2019


Year Single Peak positions Album
1996 "Catharsis" No Boundaries
1997 "Fiddle and Bow" (with Bruce Guthro)
"The Drunken Piper" (with Cookie Rankin)
1999 "In My Hands" 18 In My Hands
"Get Me Through December" (with Alison Krauss) 40
2004 "Appropriate Dipstick" Blueprint
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Music videos[edit]

Year Video Director
1996 "Catharsis"
1997 "Fiddle and Bow" (with Bruce Guthro) Andrew MacNaughtan
"The Drunken Piper" (with Cookie Rankin)
1999 "In My Hands" Christopher Mills
"Get Me Through December" (with Alison Krauss) Mark Hesselink
2004 "Appropriate Dipstick"
2014 "Go Tell It on the Mountain"
(with Johnny Reid and The Rankins)
Margaret Malandrucco

Other appearances[edit]

MacMaster at Merlefest, 2004
  • Traditional Music From Cape Breton Island, Nimbus NI5383, 1993 (two tracks)
  • Celtic Colours – The Road Home, 1997 (one track)
  • Celtic Colours – The Second Wave, 1998 (one track)
  • Celtic Colours – Forgotten Roots, 1999 (one track)
  • Roots Music: An American Journey, Rounder 0501, 2001 (one track)
  • Songs for the Savoy, 2001 (one track)
  • Celtic Colours — The Colours of Cape Breton, 2002 (one track)
  • Celtic Colours — Volume VII, 2003 (one track)
  • The Rough Guide to the Music of Canada, 2005 (one track)
  • Yo-Yo Ma & Friends: Songs of Joy and Peace; Songs:A Christmas Jig/Mouth of the Tobique Reel; 2008 (Sony BMG)
  • Thomas Dolby: Amerikana EP, Songs:Toad Lickers and 17 Hills, 2010 (Lost Toy People, Inc)


  1. ^ "White Stripes Gear up for Canada, Find Family Along the Way", SoulShine, June 19, 2007.
  2. ^ Institute, Courtesy of the Park City. "MacMaster and Leahy have combined their love of music with their love of family". Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  3. ^ Sisneros, Johnna. "REVIEW: Step-dancing violinists earn standing ovation in A Celtic Celebration at Lied Center". The Daily Nebraskan. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Natalie MacMaster". Canadian Encyclopedia.
  5. ^ "Live Reviews: The 1999 Juno Awards March 7, 1999 Copps Coliseum, Hamilton, ON". Chart Attack, — Mike McCann
  6. ^ "A Celtic Celebration with Natalie MacMaster". National Arts Centre, Ottawa.
  7. ^ "Governor General to invest 41 recipients into the Order of Canada". The Governor General of Canada web site. May 2, 2007. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  8. ^ "Order of Nova Scotia recipients-2020". Government of Nova Scotia. Retrieved December 7, 2020.

External links[edit]