Celtic Music in Canada

Cover Aug 27, 2010

by Don Graham

Celtic music is alive and thriving in Canada and has been for many years!

Celtic music is most generally Irish and Scottish music and is linked largely in Canada to Scottish/Irish diaspora in Newfoundland and Cape Breton.

Fiddles, pipes, tin flutes and string instruments like guitars and mandolins are prevalent in the Celtic music world.

The late John Allan Cameron, of Inverness in Cape Breton, was considered by most musicologists to be the Godfather of Canadian Celtic music. With his big twelve string guitar and swirling kilt, John Allan brought Celtic music to the main stage, opening for pop megastar and fellow Canadian, Anne Murray. Cameron would bring his bagpipes on stage at some point in the show and wow the audience with genuine Scottish and Celtic songs. He would then switch to a John Prine song or another popular song of the day; therefore bridging the gap between the Celtic and Pop world.

To say John Allan paved the road and opened the door for the Celtic musicians and singers of the Canadian Celtic community would be a gross understatement. The success of Rita MacNeil, The Rankin Family, Natalie MacMaster and countless others is due in a large way to the ground breaking work of John Allan Cameron. The emergence of Newfoundland’s favourite sons, Great Big Sea, cemented Celtic music in the ears and minds of a huge demographic of Canadians. No longer the music of an older generation, groups like the Mahones and the Drop Kick Murphys are bringing their brand of Celtic music to a whole new generation.

Electric fiddles and guitars, whole drum kits and great vocals have brought Celtic music into the twenty first century and will insure it will be here for generations to come, so the tradition will live on.

Long live Celtic pride and Celtic music!