Interview with Natalie MacMaster

Despite her success Natalie remains very down-to-earth, a woman of the people, still shy and vulnerable after several years in the music business -- which is part of the public persona endearing to her fans. The niece of Nova Scotia music legend Buddy MacMaster, she began playing fiddle at age of nine, and often performed with her cousin, rebel fiddler Ashley MacIsaac, whom she took fiddle lessons with. Despite the lack of air play on contemporary radio stations, Natalie has managed to rack up impressive sales figures since signing with major label Warner Music Canada. She also recently received a Grammy nomination, much to her surprise. This interview was done in the spring of 2000.

GB- How are the shows going so far?

NM-Very, very well. We started in Halifax and did two shows there. We played in Charlottetown also.

GB- Did you enjoy hosting the East Coast Music Awards this year?

NM- I did especially my co-host Shaun Majeber. It was great, I had a lot of fun. It was very light hearted and spirited.

GB- On your latest album "I'm My Hands", you have added vocals, what prompted that?

NM- A few years back I wanted to have a vocal element in my show and wasn't quite sure what to do. It was just sort of an idea I was toying with. Just mostly for the live element. When I was doing this album I thought maybe I'll resurrect that idea and I started writing some lyrics and it got to a point where I needed help so I called upon Amy Sky and she helped me with the lyrics and Geordie Sampson, who produced the album puts a really interesting cord progression to it and arrangement and we went for it and we tried it and that's what we came up with.

GB- Are you surprised by your success and the gold albums, which are traditionally reserved for more mainstream artists?

NM- It does in one way if I stop sometimes and think of where it's gone over the last few years but in another way its been so steady and everything I've achieved has been in very small steps and its been a very natural progression so its not like I've gone from rags to riches or anything like that. Its not a big success story. What it is just me playing the fiddle and getting a little more further along, a little more popular with every day, every week, month and year. It just grows and grows, bit by bit and low and behold we're able to tour around the country and the states, overseas and sell all sorts of CD's. Your right those figures are for more mainstream type artists but the world is changing, there getting into the Celtic music.

GB- How has things changed from the old days and the older players who often held day jobs and performed only on weekends?

NM- It was different for then because they didn't have the resources that we have now a days. It's so easy for us to go into record in one sense. We have so many technological advances at our fingertips that they didn't have. It just wasn't the thing to do back then to be playing full time. It was always a hobby. The music industry has changed over the years. It became much more open to different styles that enabled people my age group to be able to take their hobby and make a career out of it.

GB- How are you perceived in the US and Europe?

NM- It's going really well. We've been touring down to the US for a number of years. People talk about cracking the American market. I don't know it there is such a thing for what I do. We've had a lot of success down there. There is a lot of folk festivals and very old ones that have been going on for years. Huge attendance with forty, fifty thousand or a hundred thousand people and we do a lot of those festivals. We've been doing them for a number of years.

GB- What's coming up in the future for you?

NM- On my next project I'd like to do some traditional stuff so I usually just get a bug for something and I have to do it all. Like for "In My Hands" I really wanted to try and I've done that and I've satisfied that part of me and I think I'm getting the traditional bug now so.. I've always had the traditional bug actually.

Interview done in Fredericton, NB, Canada, March, 2000

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