Rosie MacKenzie, Artist of the Week
Runs Oct. 24-28th
Still only in her early 20s, Rosie MacKenzie is already a veteran performer and recording artist, recognized as one of the finest young Cape Breton fiddlers on the traditional music scene. Recently she spoke to Celtic Life International.
Her father’s family comes from Scotland descent and her mother’s family comes from Syria. She thank Pops for the music, and her mom for her tan.
She said she wasn’t any good at sports. There was an old fiddle in the basement with two strings and she plucked out ‘You are my sunshine.’ I am proud to say I have since learned how to play jigs and polkas, and have scored a few goals as empty netters.
My family has been a big part of my musical past. My brother and I played in a band together when we were younger and instead of packing our lunch boxes, my mom would pack us clean socks for the road. My folks were always supportive of whatever made us happy, and we were good to send home postcards. Music has always been a positive focus in my life, and people don’t usually let you go hungry when you can play them a tune. So when I leave to travel alone, I think my parents feel a little calmer.
I have just spent my first winter living in Cape Breton since I was a high school student. I taught music lessons to very aspiring young musicians, and there still seems to be a younger generation of people drawn to our traditional roots. Some of them are even athletes, so I feel the culture is still very promising.
Rosie has been a professional fiddler and singer for over fifteen years touring, recording and teaching extensively internationally. She first came onto the scene at age 11 as an original member of The Cottars. The group successfully recorded three full-length albums under Rounder Records, toured throughout North America, Europe and Japan, and shared the stage with The Chieftains, Elvis Costello, and Natalie MacMaster. The band earned themselves two East Coast Music Awards, and their televised performance was nominated for a Gemini Award.
She released her newest CD, “Atlantic,” with all but one tune written by Rosie. Besides fiddle tunes, the nine-cut venture also includes two of her own vocal compositions.
Recorded in Dingle, Ireland, the CD is creative: Great tunes meshed with lovely arrangements from backing consisting of guitar, bouzouki, bass, viola and percussion. Rosie’s fiddle weaves in and out with the other instruments like a well-choreographed dance. The songs are a nice surprise, highlighting a beautiful voice that remains passionate even while describing melancholy points in a relationship.