Cynthia MacLeod
Gig Seeker Pro

Cynthia MacLeod

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada | AFM

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada | AFM
Band Folk Celtic


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"A whooping, wild time at the Brackley Beach Ceilidh"

There’s one main reason there are more tourists than Islanders that attend ceilidhs: every other Islander is too busy puttin’ on their own ceilidh.

There are now more ceilidhs on P.E.I., in the words of my father, “than you can shake a stick at.” (Because everyone knows it’s a limited number of any given thing at which one can properly shake a stick.) Yet still, this large number does not seem to mean an overall lowered-quality of presentation in a spreading-ourselves artistically-thin sort of way. Somehow, every nook and cranny of the Island manages to bring forth, in any given case, what are reported to be great ceilidhs, dotting P.E.I. in all directions. “It’s in our blood! That’s why!” we say. And, judging from all that comes to life every summer, it’s hard to disagree with this statement.

With all the ceilidhs, too, though, one might tend to think that there are just too many for all of them to be well-attended. But, from the ones I’ve been to recently, none of them are lacking in attendance — even with a summer that was expected to be down in tourism. One such ceilidh that never ever has a small crowd is the Brackley Beach Ceilidh, hosted by Cynthia MacLeod twice a week, every Monday and Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Brackley Beach Community Centre.

This past Monday, I decided to take the sunny evening drive out Route 15 (have you ever driven while eating a footlong veggie sub at the same time? I really wouldn’t recommend it) to attend one of the crown jewels of the P.E.I. summer ceilidh circuit. Pulling into the grass parking lot, it was clear right off the bat that this was indeed a tourist crowd. Licence plates from New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, Quebec, Ontario and even as far as B.C. lined the lot.

I came in to the sounds of a reel, Big John MacNeil, being pumped out by the bow of the grinning Cynthia MacLeod, with guitarist/singer Norman Stewart at her side. As I took my seat at the back of the nearly-full room, the crowd was already enthusiastically clapping along, the first tune in. And this is worthy of initial note because, as many ceilidh-goers know, it usually takes a while to warm-up a tourist crowd who might be unfamiliar with typical ceilidh behaviour.

But, there’s something about MacLeod that just fires up a crowd immediately. Indisputably she is one of the finest fiddlers on P.E.I. — most are aware of that. And through her years of experience, her touring, and her several successful albums, she’s gained a wealth of expertise in the realm of just knowing how to work a crowd.

Yet, it also seems to be something she has always been able to do.

And if you talk to her father, Barry MacLeod, for example, who’s obviously been coming to her shows since day one, he will tell you as a witness that “she’s got ’em right from the first 30 seconds” every time (a quote from our conversation at intermission). It really does make such a huge difference as a ceilidh audience member, though, to feel the energy in the crowd right away, feeding back to the musicians on stage. It’s what any ceilidh-goer essentially wants, even the ones who don’t really know what it’s all about yet. And I’ve been to many ceilidhs where you can sense that the crowd wants to be more into it, but yet feels inhibited in some way.

However, the number of times I’ve been to a Brackley Beach Ceilidh, I’m always impressed by how freely into it the audience seems, and evidently this night was no exception. Up that ante with even a little on-stage encouragement too: “One thing is, we’re pretty loud,” smiled Cynthia after a couple of tunes. “But we want you to join in with us. So, on the count o’ three, let’s all practise a yip, holler, shout, whatever you wanna’ call it.”

So after three, the hall was filled with “Whoooo!” “Yeeeaoow!” and “Waaaaaow!” all at once. And man did it work: I’ve never heard the amount of yips and hoots coming out of a crowd as I did all night long.

Highlights from the show included vocal performances by Norman Stewart in songs like Gumboot Cloggeroo and Country Roads, songs by last-minute special guest Eddy Quinn like The Ballad of St. Anne’s Reel and Whiskey in the Jar, step-dancing by Celia Keoughan, vocal and guitar work by Myles MacKinnon, including a performance of Peter’s Dream, and, of course, the impeccable fiddle work by MacLeod, who never fails to light a fire with any jig or reel she plays.

If you get a chance, make Brackley Beach one of your ceilidh visits in the last couple of weeks of the summer. I guarantee you’ll have more fun hoots n’ hollers than you can shake a stick at.

At a glance
What: One kickin’ Brackley Beach Ceilidh.
Who: Cynthia MacLeod and friends.
Where: Needless to say, Brackley Beach.
When: Monday, Aug. 17.
Why: “Whooo!” “Yiiiip!” “Yehhow!” “Whaaaahhoooow!” - The Guardian (Charlottetown, PEI)

"The Big Buzz"

Cynthia MacLeod plays dozens of ceilidhs every summer around the picturesque north shore of Prince Edward Island. On a good night, scores of tourists and locals will pack into a renovated one-room school house in Brackley Beach to dance and clap along with her exuberant fiddle playing.

But in mid-July this past summer her audience numbers took a serious upswing. Almost one million Canadian viewers and more than three million in the U.S. caught her spirited Celtic music as she fiddled for a very exclusive beach party on the "Live with Regis and Kelly" TV show.

"It was completely unexpected," laughs MacLeod, 25. "The producers wanted a lively Island kitchen party - and that's what we do every night. It wasn't much of a stretch and we certainly didn't need any rehearsal."

The broadcast was an exciting moment for the award-winning fiddler from tiny Wheatley River in P.E.I. Her father, Barry, had a little TV experience years before, having step-danced on the "Don Messer Show" when he was a young boy.

While the potential North American exposure from the popular American morning chat show is fantastic, MacLeod is unfazed by it all.

"If something comes of it, that's awesome. But when I'm 70, it's just gonna be sweet to think Regis held my hand and sang to me on the beach."

The following week, MacLeod was back to playing her twice-a-week ceilidhs at Brackley Beach. The busy musician racked up 120 gigs from the first of July till the end of September - that's making music while the sun shines.

"People come to P.E.I. to hear the music and see the Island culture. It's busy for all the musicians here, and it makes it easier for the rest of the year - you don't have to be knocking down doors for a gig through the winter."

The dynamic musician has emerged as one of the region's top young Celtic players. She's won a dozen P.E.I. music awards, performed across Canada, and as far afield as the 2005 World Expo in Aichi, Japan. So when the producers of Regis and Kelly came calling for a fiddle player, they knew exactly who they wanted.

MacLeod has been playing for the public since she was 13, when she was hired to play fiddle tunes at Avonlea Village in Cavendish for tourists.

"What a great job that was. I was still learning to play so I got a lot of practice on the job all day long. That was a huge help to me."

She played at community concerts and ceilidhs, building her technique and her vast book of tunes. MacLeod is clearly influenced by local fiddle hero Richard Wood as well as Natalie MacMaster and other great Cape Breton players.

This past summer, MacLeod released her fourth album, "Riddle", a sparkling collection of tunes reflecting her maturing musical sensibilities. The fiddle sets move from trad Scottish and Irish tunes to an Acadian medley and even a tongue-in-cheek turn at Charlie Daniels' "The Devil Went Down To Georgia".

MacLeod also paired up with Nova Scotia musician Dave Gunning for the beautiful co-write "Red Sky". The song has inspired MacLeod to take some vocal training and work some singing into her own shows.

It had been three years since MacLeod was last in the studio, as she searched for the perfect music for this anticipated project.

"I was more than ready to get back to recording," she says. "I wanted to put out something I loved and the album turned out exactly as I wanted."

- By Sandy MacDonald - Penguin Eggs

"Fiddler's Star Continues To Rise"

Cynthia MacLeod's star continues to rise in the East.

The 17-year-old fiddler from Harrington, P.E.I. dazzled audiences twice Saturday at the East Coast Music Awards here, earning standing ovations at the Yamaha 72-Hour Jam in the morning and in the Roots Room later that night.

With so many talented artists on deck, it would be presumptuous on my part to assume they all came out specifically to see MacLeod play, although there were most certainly a number who did, drawn by her growing reputation as one of the region's most promising young fiddlers.

But regardless of who they came out to see, there was no question as to the impression she made.

MacLeod charmed her listeners in both cases with upbeat sets that primarily but not exclusively features well-known traditional and traditional-style pieces, several of them penned by fiddlers from the East Coast, like Jerry Holland, Brenda Stubbert and fellow Islander J.J. Chaisson of Kindle.

She set toes to tapping with a spirited mix of jigs, reels and strathspeys but also stepped back from the spotlight more than once to feature the talents of her guitarist Gordon Belsher, a nominee this year for roots/traditional solo artist of the year.

Playing the role of accompanist, she backed Belsher for such fiddle-friendly tunes as Dave Mallett's Ballad of the St. Ann's Reel and the title track from his last album, Reel In The Flickering Light.

There is a lovely chemistry between MacLeod and Belsher on stage, and a generosity of spirit that seems to come out whenever you put the two together before an audience.

MacLeod has so much to offer and Belsher, a seasoned veteran who's spent several years touring with award-winning fiddler Richard Wood, knows well how to set the stage for her, giving her an excellent foundation to build on.

She also gets a yeoman effort from keyboard player Jeff Matheson, who's with them every step of the way.

And for Saturday night's performance in the Roots Room, MacLeod had additional support from piper Ellen MacPhee, who joined MacLeod for a set that she recorded with her for Head Over Heels.

To say they had the joint jumpin' would be an understatement.

Saturday night's performance was the last official show for MacLeod at the ECMAs. MacLeod will long remember this weekend.

- written by Doug Gallant - The Guardian (Charlottetown, PEI)


- released in July 2010
- nominated for a 2011 East Coast Music Award

"Hot Off The Floor"
- released in 2007
- nominated for a 2008 East Coast Music Award

- released in 2004

"Head Over Heels
- released in 2002
- Music PEI Album of the Year

Tracks from all four recordings are regularly played on Celtic/Folk radio shows around the world.



From her home base in tiny Prince Edward Island, Canada, fiddling sensation Cynthia MacLeod has built an international reputation that is expanding around the globe.

It's a reputation founded in raw talent, nurtured by boundless energy, and polished to a gleaming finish by a decade of touring that has taken her across Canada, through New England, and as far away as Japan. Audiences far and wide have thrilled as this tiny dynamo takes the stage for whirlwind performances that garner spring-loaded standing ovations everywhere she performs.

Just as remarkable is the acceptance and respect accorded Cynthia by her peers. In a part of the world known for dazzlingly talented fiddlers, fellow musicians have awarded her more than a dozen Prince Edward Island Music Awards, including multiple awards as Roots/Traditional Artist of the Year and Instrumental Artist of the Year. She has also been chosen by audiences as Entertainer of the Year based on her breathtaking live performances.

And all this in the first 25 years of her life.

In that time, she has produced four critically-acclaimed (and top-selling) CDs. Head Over Heels (2002) won her instant credibility with a hard-bitten music industry and was named Album of the Year. Her second CD, Crackerjack (2004), built on her growing
reputation as a precise, lively interpreter of traditional fiddle music. Hot Off The Floor (2007) combined that traditional sound with newer compositions and cemented Cynthia's place among the very best in East Coast fiddle music. Her latest, Riddle, showcases a more mature, more cosmopolitan, and more experimental side to her music. Newly released, it is already winning critical and audience approval.

Cynthia's grace and charm with audiences is unchanged whether she is performing at home at her perpetually standing-room-only ceilidhs in Brackley Beach, PEI, or taking the stage in front of thousands at the 2005 World Expo in Aichi, Japan. She is equally comfortable in an intimate workshop in New England, an enormous festival setting in Cape Breton or Goderich, Ontario, or bursting onto the stage to a packed house in St. Albert, Alberta or Whistler, B.C.

Summer of 2010 brought a special distinction: Cynthia was asked to perform on the popular American syndicated TV morning show "Regis and Kelly Live!". Millions of viewers
around North America saw and heard the Island fiddling sensation as she brought her firebrand form of Island traditional music to a brand new audience.

Her growing fan base across Canada and throughout the New England states knows what to expect from Cynthia - soft-spoken down-home charm, a playful, mature sexiness, and a high-energy, electrifying show with fun, fiddle, and step-dancing - often all three at the same time!