“Two lights of the Canadian firmament,” longtime friends Mary Jane Lamond and Wendy MacIsaac thrill listeners with “a delicate balance between … the melancholy of Gaelic song and the joy of fiddle music.”
Scottish Gaelic music took root in Cape Breton in the late 18th and early 19th centuries with the arrival of settlers fleeing the forced evictions known as the Highland Clearances. Master musicians have staunchly preserved and nurtured this style, passing it on “knee-to-knee” to the next generation for over 200 years.
Mary Jane Lamond heard her first Gaelic songs at a milling frolic, where neighbors sang to keep time during the laborious process of refining raw wool. “I was so taken by it,” she says, “I became determined to learn and sing Gaelic myself.” Through dedicated study with old masters and in university archives, Lamond has become Gaelic singing’s undisputed star.
Wendy MacIsaac is a standout among Cape Breton’s wealth of great fiddlers. By age 15, the Creignish native was in demand for dances across the island; now she performs to international acclaim as a solo artist and in Beolach. MacIsaac is also a master piano accompanist and a skilled stepdancer.
Their skills merge in the duo’s unparalleled presentation of the sounds and spirit of Cape Breton’s Gaelic heritage.