We at Furness Tradition are sad to learn of the passing of Jean Redpath and Buddy McMaster.
Born in Edinburgh, but brought up in Fife, Jean Redpath had a life long fascination with Scottish music.
Inspired by the archive Hamish Henderson was building during her studies at Edinburgh University, she arrived in the US as a young woman ready to share the 400 traditional songs she had learned.
Her first performance was in San Francisco in 1961, but she moved east to Greenwich Village where she shared a flat with Bob Dylan, performing alongside him in the city’s thriving folk scene.
She was a regular on Garrison Keillor’s radio show A Prairie Home Companion, a lecturer at the University of Stirling for more than a decade, and a performer of international renown.
Scottish singer and songwriter Sheena Wellington described Redpath as the “foremost ambassador for Scottish traditional song for more than 50 years”.
She said: “She researched and brought back lots of songs that had been lost in the midst of time, and just performed with such grace and such humour as well. She was incredibly funny on stage.”
She received an MBE for her services to music.
She was recently diagnosed with cancer and died in a hospice in Arizona.
Buddy McMaster was one of the most renowned artists in the tradition of Cape Breton fiddle music. Growing up in Cape Breton, Canada, MacMaster’s father played the fiddle, but his mother sang to him from birth, lilting with a Gaelic inflection peculiar to the area, and it is she that he credits for instilling in him a love of music. At an early age, MacMaster began to play the fiddle. At age 12, he had his first public performance at an amateur hour in Port Hood, Nova Scotia, and at age 14 he played his first professional gig at a square dance in the nearby town of Troy. After his retirement from the railroad in 1988, he went on to play full-time as a professional musician, gaining an international reputation. He was one of the first Cape Breton fiddlers to be asked to teach in Scotland. He has appeared through Nova Scotia, Canada, the US and the UK for dances, in concert and in festivals such as the Atlantic Fiddlers’ Festival, Cape Breton Fiddlers’ Festival, Celtic Colours International Festival, Nova Scotia Highland Village Day, Cape Breton Fiddlers’ Festival, the Nova Scotia international tattoo, and the Celtic Sundance Festival, Utah. He wass also the uncle of Natalie MacMaster, another Cape Breton fiddler who has toured extensively and gained a worldwide following.