Folk Alliance International has chosen the 89-year-old MacMaster to receive its Lifetime Achievement Award. He joins past winners such as Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Woodie Guthrie and Canadian Stan Rogers.
Folk Alliance International is one of North America's largest folk music organizations.
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.