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Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy

  • Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy
  • Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy

To fans of fiddle music, Natalie MacMaster needs no introduction. Over a recording career now spanning 25 years, this Order of Canada recipient has released 11 albums that have notched sales of over 200,000 copies. She has won two JUNO and eleven East Coast Music Awards and been nominated for a Grammy, is in great demand as a charismatic performer, and has collaborated with artists as diverse as Yo-Yo Ma (on the Grammy-winning album Songs of Joy & Peace), Alison Krauss, Jesse Cook, and Bela Fleck. Though acknowledging that she can be "a musical chameleon," Natalie stresses that, above all else, "I play Cape Breton fiddle."

Natalie’s husband, Donnell Leahy, is no stranger to the awards podium himself. As the former incendiary musical leader of double Platinum– selling, festival–headlining Celtic family group Leahy, he refined his mesmerizingly strident, exultant, and high-energy performances which have become his musical signature. Widely recognized as one of the best Celtic fiddlers in the world, his high-energy playing style also makes him a highly popular performer.

With the release of their latest studio album ONE, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard World Music chart, a milestone was hit, as the release was their official first full recording as a duo. "When we married in 2002, we felt there would be some recording project in our future, but we didn’t realize it wouldn't happen until 2014!," says Natalie. "Six children later, we’ve finally documented our musical growth together." And what a document ONE is. Released internationally on Linus Entertainment on April 28, 2015, this is an album greater than the sum of its parts. When those individual parts are as talented as MacMaster and Leahy, that's saying something. As Natalie explains, "this CD is a combination of the old and the new, the original and the traditional, the Cape Breton and the Ontario. It’s a musical reflection of us as individuals and as spouses, our influences over the years and our personal interpretations and tastes. We just wanted the right music. Whether it came from us or someone else, whether it came from Finland or Cape Breton, that didn't matter. I'm always just 'oh, I love that piece. I want to record it.'"

The diversity of ONE is a real strength. The Cape Breton-raised MacMaster and the Ontario born and bred Leahy grew up with different fiddle music traditions and they still utilize different techniques on their beloved instrument. While retaining their own individual styles, they have now learned to complement each other's playing in a way only a married couple with such personal chemistry and a joint passion for music can.

A crucial component to ONE was the presence of superstar producer Bob Ezrin. It was a chance meeting of Natalie with legendary producer Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper, Deep Purple) at sessions he was producing for Scottish born Canadian singing star Johnny Reid that led to the unlikely musical match between the star producer and the Celtic couple.  Smitten with their sound, Bob recruited Justin Cortelyou (Taylor Swift, Ke$ha, Alan Jackson), to co-produce, and the two headed to Cape Breton to record the Celtic couple with ace session musicians Mark Kelso, Mac Morin, Tim Edey, Jamie Gatti, Rachel Aucoin and Sabin Jacques.

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