Interview with Natalie MacMaster

Natalie MacMaster
Natalie MacMaster

photo by Jim Anderson

Interview by Scott Preston

With a talent that remains both raw and wondrously refined, and backed by a band any top musician would be proud of, Natalie MacMaster continues to stun crowds around the globe with her feverish fiddling and mesmerizing step dancing. (1)
Well-known to international audiences as one of Canada’s major talents,Natalie has been an ambassador for traditional East Coast music, and is credited with lifting the style to its contemporary prominence. While acclaimed for taking Celtic music to new heights, each album Natalie releases displays a creativity and range that constantly expands the boundaries of the genre.(1)

Natalie first picked up the fiddle at age nine and hasn’t looked back. The niece of famed Cape Breton fiddler Buddy MacMaster (with whom she recorded a tribute album in 2005), Natalie quickly became a major talent in her own right. After winning numerous awards for her early traditional recordings, Natalie’s subsequent releases have been boldly ground-breaking and received with abundant accolades. (1)

With albums like In My Hands (Rounder), which fused Jazz, Latin, and the guest vocals of label mate Alison Krauss, and the Grammy-nominated My Roots Are Showing (Rounder), Natalie has proven time and time again that she is making her mark on music history. 2003’s remarkable Blueprint (Rounder) combined Natalie’s own musical radiance with the cream of American roots instrumentalists, including Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, and Edgar Meyer, and won her “Best Female Artist of the Year” and “Best Roots/Traditional Solo Recording” at Canada’s East Coast Music Awards in 2005. Two of Natalie’s CDs have charted on Billboard’s Top 20 Selling World Music charts, while four of her previous five CD releases have been certified “gold” (50,000 +) in Canada. Natalie has a Bachelor of Education degree from the Nova Scotia Teachers College, and has received honorary doctorates from St. Thomas University and Niagara University. In July of 2006, Natalie was one of the youngest people ever named a member of the prestigious Order of Canada – Canada’s highest civilian honor. (1)

Cincy Groove: I understand you were awarded the Order of Canada last year, what was that experience like?

Natalie MacMaster:Its a big deal for us for sure. My family was there, my mother and father, husband, daughter and I was also expecting. The ceremony was in May and I was due in June. It was a really beautiful ceremony. There were many inductees that night.

Cincy Groove:Its quite impressive that you were honored at such a young age

Natalie MacMaster: Yeah most of the people there were in their 70’s, 80’s. I certainly didn’t feel worthy of being in their presence. But I guess someone felt I should be there, so I took it as a moment to give myself a little pat on the back.

Cincy Groove: What do you like to do when you are not playing music?

Natalie MacMaster: I love to cook.

Cincy Groove: Is there somebody you would really liked to play with that you haven’t had a chance to yet?

Natalie MacMaster: I would love to play with Sting. People who I have played with are Alison Krauss, Bela Fleck, Michael McDonald. Depending on what time of my life it was, when I was younger I would get awe struck more easily.

Cincy Groove: Do you have any plans for a new album?

Natalie MacMaster: Nothing concrete. But certainly its in the back of my mind. I’m looking for music, I guess I thought it would be a traditional record. Which I still think it will be, but you never know, call me tomorrow and my answer might be different.

Cincy Groove: When does your tour kick off this year?

Natalie MacMaster: January 23

Official website:

Upcoming Tour Dates:
1/23/08 – Louisville, KY – Whitney Hall – Kentucky Center for the Arts
1/24/08 – Dayton, OH Victoria Theatre, being presented by City Folk
1/25/08 – Cleveland, OH – Cleveland Museum of Art » SOLD OUT
1/26/08 – Urbana, IL Tryon Festival Theatre – Krannert Center
1/27/08 – Palos Hills, IL Dorothy Menker Theater
1/29/08 – Wausau, WI Grand Theater
1/30/08 – Madison, WI Overture Center For The Arts
1/31/08 – Ames, IA C.Y. Stephens Auditorium
for more tour dates click here