There are fiddlers and then there is Donnell Leahy, whose lifelong devotion to playing and performing as a solo artist, with his 10 siblings in the much-fêted group Leahy (of which he was frontman and business lead) and, more recently, alongside wife and musical collaborator Natalie MacMaster has cemented his reputation as a peerless instrumentalist able to synthesize traditional influences with more contemporary Celtic/folk sensibilities. His Irish/Cape Breton lineage (from his father and mother, respectively) also weaves its way into the sonic mix.
With Leahy: The Leahy Family (multiple independent recordings issued between 1981-1985); Leahy (1996); Lakefield (2001); In All Things (2004); Leahy Live (2006); Handmade (2007).
With Natalie MacMaster: One (2015); A Celtic Family Christmas (2016).
AWARDS & ACCOLDADES
With Leahy: Featured subject in Academy Award-winning 1985 documentary, Leahy: Music Most of All; two-time platinum certification of Leahy album (1996); JUNO Awards (six nominations, three wins for Best Country Group or Duo, 1999 and Best New Group and Instrumental Artist of the Year, 1998).
With Natalie MacMaster: Honorary Doctorate, Trent University, Peterborough (2008); Canadian Folk Music Award (Instrumental Group of the Year 2015); East Coast Music Awards (Fan’s Choice Entertainer of the Year and Instrumental Recording of the Year 2016).
Has performed with The Chieftains and Shania Twain (as opening act on 1998’s Come on Over Tour); collaborated with noted rock producer Bob Ezrin on One album from 2015; traces his ancestral roots to County Cork, Ireland from where the family relocated to rural Ontario in 1825, establishing themselves as beef farmers. Leahy and his brothers maintain the farm today (albeit between touring commitments), upholding a deeply instilled work ethic and desire to be close to the land, experiences Leahy and MacMaster keenly share with their six music-mad children.