Award Winning Cape Breton Fiddler Passing on the Tradition
Jessica Christine Crowley is a Cape Breton fiddler whose forebears come were from Counties Cork and Kerry in Ireland. Her Dad comes from Grand Bank Newfoundland and moved to Cape Breton as a teenager. So it is that Chrissie, now living in Sydne was steeped in the culture of the beautiful Margaree area of Nova Scotia, Canada, a place known for its cherished musical culture. The music of the ceilidh resonates in the majestic mountains and peaceful valleys incorporating not only the tunes of the Scottish Gaels but also those of the area’s Irish and French-Acadians.
Inspired by the traditions of artists who have gone before her, with a firm foundation in the traditional music of Cape Breton she is nonetheless one of an irrepressible curiosity and desire to create and discover, Now she is bringing her music worldwide. She has performed throughout Canada, the United States, the UK, as well as Ireland, France, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic, captivating audiences with a talent that belies her youth.
But it wasn't always that way. Being traditional and ‘cool’ didn’t seem possible to a girl handed a fiddle at 12 years of age. She pretty well kept her fiddle 'hidden'.. However, a surprise visit to her school by a group of traditional artists with - piano, bagpipes, drums and fiddle – in one band. She loved them for being traditional in every way and beyond!
The visitors were part of the Celtic Colours ‘In the School Program.’ Launched in 2000, to give Cape Breton students an opportunity to witness fresh, first-rate Celtic music. This Oct. 2017, for the second straight year, Crowley and company will be part of 13 festival artists who will visit 21 schools across the island as part of a Celtic Colours programme being sponsored by TD Canada Trust aimed at sustaining the island's Celtic culture, knowing that its survival hinges on a younger generation that believes its culture is worth preserving. ... '"it's something we grow here and share with the rest of the world"
Christie Crowley's first recording, released in 2007 when she was 17, heralded the emergence of a fascinating new talent. A Sonicbids “Artists Spotlight” honour and various Music Nova Scotia and East Coast Music Award showcases including the ECMA Rising Star and Roots Room, were acknowledgement of her great potential.Her debut record was nominated for a Music Nova Scotia Award, ECMA and Canadian Folk Music Award, leading her to be selected as the CBC Galaxie’s Celtic Artist of the Month (May 2009). Her music is in a new direction; a path of fearless innovation which has earned her a 2013 Canadian Folk Music Award, a Top 20 Under 20 in Canada award, and numerous East Coast Music Association and Music Nova Scotia nominations.
To maintain a fresh and lively sound that often gets lost in a recording process, all track arrangements took place the night before each studio session. The result is an album recorded with the same energy and spontaneity you’d find in Chrissy’s live shows… an honest and raw sound once described as ”fiery fiddle playing with a distinctly mischievous personality” (Tim Readman, Penguin Eggs Magazine).”
Her highly anticipated second album, released in 2010, did not disappoint, garnering the same nominations once again. Many fans expected a recording of the traditional tunes of her repertoire, and were pleasantly surprised to discover that Chrissy had recorded a mixture of new and old. Chrissy Crowley’s original compositions and her experimentation with various instruments and contemporary arrangements are the 'voice' of her irrepressible free spirit.
Michaela Marie Siegmund-Hinds was born in 1995 at Brampton, Ontario. Growing up in her Irish family culture, she took up the love and talent for Irish dancing at age 3. She has been Irish dancing for the past 18 years and has achieved more than another Canadian in Irish Dancing to date. Her record is remarkable: 11-time Canadian Champion, 8-time North American, 5-time Great Britain, 3-time All-Ireland and 6-time World Champion.
Michaela's mother, Catherine, was born in Belfast, Ireland, and a dancer herself. Michaela truly believes it has been her Mum’s constant support and dedication that has enabled her to achieve so much in Irish Dancing and in other aspects of her life. She is grateful to her Mum for all the sacrifices made which have allowed her to reach the pinnacle of Irish Dancing world wide. In her own words, :My Mum guided me constantly and I am so grateful for all the sacrifices made that have allowed me to pursue my dreams of becoming a world champion Irish Dancer. My success is all because of her dedication and belief she has had in me.”
Currently studying Kinesiology and Health Promotion at Sheridan College, Ontario, her hometown, allows her to continue in her passion for Dancing and her dream of becoming a dance teacher, following in the footsteps of Rose Fearon, who is one of her biggest role models.
Upon completion of her studies Michaela plans to pursue a career in kinesiology and rehabilitation which can be applied to Irish dancing. On her minimal spare time she enjoys being with her friends and family, as well as reading and exercising.
Michaela Hinds .
Anne was born and raised in Co Galway. She graduated as a registered nurse and, in 1960, emigrated to Canada where she lived in Montreal for 4 years before moving on to make Kingston, Ontario, her permanent home. In 1972 Anne interrupted her operating room nursing career to become co-owner of the Frontenac Hotel. General manager for the hotel, she also managed two Irish pubs called Finnegan’s and Muldoon’s. It was there that Anne introduced Kingston to traditional Irish music. In addition to travelling to Ireland to recruit bands and musicians she hired many talented Canadian performers to provide Irish musical entertainment in the pubs.
In 1978 Anne arranged for the Echoes of Erin Concert Tour Group to include Kingston in their schedule . There was no looking back - she founded the Kingston Branch of Comhaltas Ceoltori Eireann, was its Chairperson for the following two years, and helped to help create the first school of Irish dancing in Kingston in 1981.
When she resumed her nursing career at the Kingston General Hospital in 1983, Anne began taking Irish dancing instruction from Peggy Kendellan in Ottawa. During this time she introduced Brockville to the Irish dancing and music culture through association with the Kingston Comhaltas Branch.
In 1988 Anne was elected Chairperson of the Eastern Comhaltas Regional Board. When the North American Provincial Council was formed in 1992, she was elected Vice Chairperson, a role which she continued to fill until she stepped down in 2012. Somehow Anne found time to introduce the Comhaltas Music Hall of Fame to Canada in 1996.
Through her encouragement and guidance the CCE Western Region was established in 1997. She so successively lobbied Ireland Head Office and the North American Provincial Council to have Canada included in the Adjudicator Program that Toronto was selected for a seminar in 2003! Through Anne’s efforts an annual Feile Cheoil was established in 2006 - it is hoped this will lead to a North American qualifying Fleadh being held in Canada.
From 2002 Anne coordinated the Echoes of Erin concert tours in Canada and, in since 2003, was elected annually as one of two delegates to represent CCE North America at the most senior Comhaltas management committee (Ardchomhairle) in Ireland. She stepped down from this role in 2012.
For most of her adult life Anne ceaselessly promoted the development and preservation of Irish traditional culture in North America. Her contributions to this cause have been immeasurable and her untimely, accidental death in 2016 has left a deep sense of loss to associations and in the hearts of countless people.
Canadian Eastern Region Music Hall of Fame Inductee (2000)
Jessica Christine Crowley.
Chair: Canadian Region Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann
Violet Moore began teaching Irish Dance in 1963 in the basement of St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Vancouver. In the early 70’s, a few years into her new challenge, a pupil told Violet of a Championship competition to be held in San Francisco. The purpose of that competition was to find a dancer who would qualify for the first ever All-World Irish Dance Championship to be held at Grafton Street, Dublin.
Violet recognized an outstanding dancer in her class and, with permission from the girl’s parents, the Violet Moore School of Irish Dance entry, Iris Peake, was off to San Francisco. Iris won first place. She received her silver trophy, and an Airline ticket to the Dublin Irish Dancing Championships. While in Dublin, Iris and her mother stayed in Violet’s family home. This momentous event meant that Iris Peake became the first western Canadian and possibly the first eastern Canadian to represent Canada’s Irish dance community.
ince the early seventies, the Violet Moore School of Irish Dance has gained much acclaim in Irish Dancing as more pupils of the school cotinue to succeed at Championship competitions throughout North America and Ireland. Violet has long since acquired her adjudication qualifications and judges championship competitions throughout North America and Ireland.
Passing on the tradition: each of the ex-dancers of Violet’s School qualified under an extremely demanding, two day “An Coimisún exams” and many of Violet’s former pupils have successful schools of their own in the Lower Mainland of Vancouver.
Sixth Time World Champion Irish Dancer
Violet Moore School of Irish Dance
St. Patrick's Day Parade, Vancouver, Canada
Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann
(Gathering of the Musicians of Ireland)
was founded in 1951 by a group of Irish pipers who were concerned Ireland's traditional music was in decline and in danger of being lost. The organization has grown into a global movement involving tens of thousands of people encompassing traditional Irish dance and the Irish language as well as the music.
The Comhaltas movement is organised into local branches, where most activities and classes take place. The Branch is the fundamental unit as it brings members together to organize sessions, classes, concerts, festivals, exhibitions, fleadhanna cheoil (music competitions), and other events both for their own enjoyment and that of the community at large..
Anne McConnell Strong
Elizabeth’s great-great-grandparents Brian and Bridget McKeever McKeever emigrated to St. John, NB. from Limavady, Co. Derry ca. 1854-60 Elizabeth's contribution to the promotion and preservation of Irish culture in Canada was recognized by Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann with her Induction into the Canadian Eastern Region Music Hall of Fame in 2000.
A professional Highland dancer, Elizabeth first discovered traditional Irish dance while living in Toronto in the late 1980s. A professional Highland dancer, Elizabeth first discovered traditional Irish dance while living in Toronto in the late 1980s. Upon moving back to Nova Scotia, she established the Scaip na Cleití dance group in Halifax, which she has led for nearly 20 years. She is credited with introducing traditional Irish set and Sean-Nós step dance to Nova Scotia.
A highly regarded workshop leader and dance caller, Elizabeth has taught at festivals and dance camps throughout Eastern Canada. Living in Europe, 2003 – 2007, Elizabeth taught the Brussels set dancers and instructed at events throughout Belgium and Northern France.
President of An Cumann, the Irish Association of Nova Scotia, she also serves on the executive of the Charitable Irish Society of Halifax. When not dancing or teaching others to dance, Elizabeth runs her own writing and editorial services firm, Acappella Communications Inc.