Natalie MacMaster is a star of Cape Breton fiddling, a Canadian tradition with Scottish roots. Her energetic style and virtuoso talent has brought her star billing on the international folk circuit.

Why you should listen

It's not easy to make traditional Irish-Scottish music sound sexy and yet still seem wholesome. But Natalie MacMaster manages this feat, drawing listeners in with her playful showmanship, and then holding them rapt with astounding technical flourishes.

The niece of renowned Canadian fiddler Buddy MacMaster, she's taken up the mantle as standard-bearer for Cape Breton fiddling, a method of Scottish-style violin-playing that's evolved over the last century on this island neighbor to Nova Scotia. The tradition was on the wane when, in 1972, a CBS documentary provocatively titled The Vanishing Cape Breton Fiddler jump-started preservation efforts in the fiddling community.

MacMaster's enthusiastic charm and extraordinary skill has landed her star billing on the international folk circuit and multiple Grammy nominations. She's released nine albums, including Yours Truly (2006), Natalie and Buddy MacMaster (2005) and My Roots Are Showing (1998). She's toured with countless performers, including the Chieftains, Faith Hill, Carlos Santana and Alison Krauss, and has been awarded two Juno Awards (Canada's equivalent to the Grammy).

Natalie MacMaster’s TED talks

Natalie MacMaster on the TED Blog

Music

Thomas Dolby: Spot the Billie Holiday lyrics

May 7, 2010

Via The Official Thomas Dolby Blog: Thomas Dolby has posted the lyrics to his brand-new song “Love Is a Loaded Pistol,” which premiered today on TED.com. He throws out a challenge: “See how many of Billie’s song titles you can spot.” Get the lyrics >> He writes that an MP3 of studio version of “Pistol” […]

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4 great talks for International Women's Day

March 8, 2009

To celebrate March 8, International Women’s Day, we suggest these four TEDTalks gems from some amazing speakers — artists, scientists and economists who think deeply about the role of women. Author and activist Isabel Allende discusses women, creativity, feminism — and the power of passionate thinkers and doers: The former Finance Minister of Nigeria, Ngozi […]

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Playing the Cape Breton fiddle: Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy on TED.com

January 30, 2009

Natalie MacMaster and her musical partner Donnell Leahy play tunes from the Cape Breton tradition — a sprightly, soulful style of folk fiddle and piano. It’s an inspired collaboration that will have you clapping (and maybe dancing) along. (Recorded February 2003 in Monterey, California. Duration: 18:47.) Watch Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy’s performance on TED.com, […]

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