Renowned Cape Breton fiddler Buddy MacMaster is being recognized by one of North America's largest folk music organizations.
Folk Alliance International has chosen MacMaster to receive its Lifetime Achievement Award. He joins past winners like Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Woodie Guthrie and Canadian Stan Rogers.
Other honourees this year include Dock Boggs and the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.
Natalie MacMaster, another fiddling icon, said she’s excited for her uncle.
“He’ll be very, very grateful and very proud,” she told CBC’s As it Happens.
“[Fiddling] is a way of life for us. It’s not done on the side. It’s part of how we live. It’s part of our joys, it’s part of what we seek and desire.”
She said the award is proof that fiddling music isn't dead.
'It’s part of our joys, it’s part of what we seek and desire. - Natalie MacMaster on the art of fiddling
“This doesn’t define Buddy, he’s already been defined.”
MacMaster said her uncle, who turns 90 this year, has the same qualities as Rita MacNeil.
“So gentle with such Cape Breton demeanor,” she said
A member of both the Order of Canada and the Order of Nova Scotia, MacMaster was born into a Celtic-speaking, musical family in the northeastern Ontario mining town of Timmins. His family, however, was originally from Cape Breton and returned there when he was a toddler, moving to the town of Judique.
MacMaster began playing the fiddle as a teen and, although he worked for the Canadian National Railroad for about 45 years, he built a career performing his Cape Breton-style fiddle at concerts, dances, benefits and on CBC-TV shows like Ceilidh and The John Allan Cameron Show.
MacMaster began recording albums in 1989 — at the age of 65 — after he retired from his rail career.