Canada’s Queen of the Fiddle Natalie MacMaster said she’s surprised and delighted by the incredible success of Sketches, her first solo album in eight years.
Sketches, which was released in November, has already received a 2020 JUNO Award nomination, the eighth nomination for a JUNO in MacMaster’s long musical career.
“It’s sweet that it has received so much attention, but it was not a big production and very simple in its creation, although it is rich in dynamics and musicality,” said Canada’s most endearing and revered fiddler for decades.
“The two albums that I released before Sketches were more of the industry type, but they received no award nominations, so I thought this one would also go under the radar. It makes me feel good that the industry still recognizes the beauty and simplicity of traditional music.”
MacMaster began touring on March 5 in Ontario to promote Sketches, which debuted at the No. 1 position on the instrumental and world music albums in Canada, and in the top five releases of 2019 on those genre charts, and she’ll be performing at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on March 12 at an event called “An Acoustic Evening with Natalie MacMaster”.
Sketches is a fiery, must-hear collection of traditional tunes and medleys mixed with new compositions.
The album teems with retrospect and legacy as MacMaster reflects on her extraordinary journey in both life and career.
“I have something to say through my fiddle,” she said.
“I’d say that was the fact of the matter.”
For Sketches, MacMaster said she drew on different sets of numbers for inspiration.
“It is a moment during my 47th year of life, my 37th year of fiddling, my 16th year of marriage, and my 13th year of parenting,” MacMaster said of the new album, and in reference to her seven children and husband, fellow fiddler Donnell Leahy.
“It is a moment of joyous appreciation inspired by years of parenting, marriage, friendships, music, and life.”
Accolades and awards are not new for the Celtic music superstar from Cape Breton.
With more than 300,000 albums sold, MacMaster has received countless nominations and award wins; including but not limited to a Grammy Award win and nomination, a Juno Award win and seven nominations, 19 East Coast Music Association awards, and five Canadian Country Music Association “Fiddler of the Year” nods — as well as three honorary doctorates, an induction into the Casino Nova Scotia Hall of Fame, and a member of the Order of Canada.
MacMaster said while she has worked on other projects, including a couple with her husband and children over the last eight years, she felt it was time for her to go solo again for an album.
“I’ve had the Sketches project in mind for six years, and I love the freshness of it,” she said.
“I really appreciated the work [award-winning musician] Tim Edey did to assist with the album. Sketches is little bit of a different flavour than what people are used to from me, and I look forward to sharing it with the audience in the Cowichan Valley on March 12.”
MacMaster said she’s grateful to her fans for her longevity as a fiddle legend.
“I’ve been performing since I was a teenager, but I’ve found that my creativity just seems to grow over the years,” she said.
“I also have to attribute some of my success to the fact that I’m playing a style of music that was here long before us and will be here long after we’re gone, and it’s always been quite popular.”
Tickets for “An Acoustic Evening with Natalie MacMaster” are $49.50 each, and you can find them at cowichanpac.ca.