Whether she likes it or not, there is no denying that Natalie MacMaster is Cape Breton’s pride and joy. She is everything almost anybody would wish to be: talented, intelligent and humble. Oh, and good-looking, accomplished and respected as one of, if not the best, of her genre. Not that it matters to MacMaster.
Natalie MacMaster is a rarity not only in the music world, but in society as well. Despite the inevitable fact that she has flaws, she doesn’t noticeably display any, and one gets the feeling that they would have to dig pretty deep to find out what, exactly, they are.
Where her cohort in Cape Breton fiddle (the “visible” Ashley MacIsaac) has failed, MacMaster has excelled: breaking into a modern music world hungry for flash with the most traditional of genres, without offending the community around the genre. MacIsaac choose the path of flash, feeling that it was the only way traditional fiddle could last in the collective music conscience. He screeched, spat and swore his way into the spotlight and although this tactic proved successful initially, his stardom faded. MacMaster, on the otherhand, choose to do things a little differently.
While it is true that MacIsaac may have opened the doors for Natalie MacMaster, it was MacMaster who proved to be the better guest once inside. Building on the lessons that her equally talented uncle Buddy MacMaster gave her, she quietly built her repertoire and polished her talent. She practiced and played and then practiced some more. She initially played crowed square dances throughout Cape Breton and eventually filled concert halls. She built on the success of her debut release, 1993’s Fit As a Fiddle with three more successful, critically-acclaimed, No Boundaries (1996), My Roots Are Showing (1997) and 1999’ s In My Hands . Despite attention and praise, she remains as down-to-earth and shy as a young girl playing her first public school concert. A gem indeed, not just for Cape Breton, but Canada and the world as well…