MacIsaac was born in Creignish, Nova Scotia. His sister Lisa is also a fiddler, who has her own alternative country band, Madison Violet. She also appears on his album Helter's Celtic.
His cousins Alexis MacIsaac, Wendy MacIsaac and Natalie MacMaster are also touring fiddlers. Ashley MacIsaac is a distant cousin of The White Stripes guitarist and lead vocalist Jack White. The two met and MacIsaac opened for The White Stripes concert in Glace Bay.
Ashley MacIsaac is a Canadian professional fiddler from Cape Breton Island. He has received three Juno Awards: for Best New Solo Artist, for Best Instrumental Artist, and for Best Roots & Traditional Album – Solo. His Hi™ How Are You Today? was a double-platinum selling. MacIsaac published an autobiography, Fiddling with Disaster in 2003. On January 17, 2007, MacIsaac married Andrew Stokesan Ontario-born violinist, during his set on the East Coast Music Awards, after being engaged since May. Following a toast from guitarist Stuart Cameron, the couple took up their fiddles and played Brenda Stubbards before departing the stage.
MacIsaac's album Hi™ How Are You Today?, featuring the hit single "Sleepy Maggie", with vocals in Scottish Gaelic by Mary Jane Lamond was released in 1995. The album was a double-platinum selling Canadian record. It earned MacIsaac a 1996 Juno in the category Best Roots & Traditional Album – Solo.
On a 1997 Late Night with Conan O'Brien appearance, his leg kick lifted his kilt high enough that his genitals were visible to the studio and television audience. MacIsaac stated it was unintentional. Also in 1997, MacIsaac toured the United States as an opening act for The Chieftains. It was widely reported in the media that another opener, folk singer Nanci Griffith, dropped out of the tour because she objected to MacIsaac's musical style, but Griffith confirmed in Rolling Stone that her primary conflict was with tour organizers over how much time was available for her after the addition of MacIsaac to the bill.
In 1998 MacIsaac fought successfully to be independent of his record label. He subsequently signed with the independent label Loggerhead Records for his 1999 album Helter's Celtic. During the promotional tour for that album, he indicated to the press that he had battled an addiction to crack cocaine from 1997 to 1999.
In 1999, a journalist for The New Yorker noted MacIsaac's rock-star bravado and eccentricities. In 1996, in a Maclean's interview, he claimed that he had discussed his sexual life, including his young boyfriend and fondness for watersports in an interview with the LGBT newsmagazine The Advocate. The Advocate did not print any of the material, but Maclean's dropped him from its year-end honours list.
In December 1999, MacIsaac screamed obscenities at a New Year's Eve rave in Halifax; the performance led to cancellations of his concerts across Canada and a "media frenzy over his perceived downward spiral". MacIsaac got into a media spat with his label Loggerhead after the label sent out a press release distancing itself from his actions. Also the same year, MacIsaac told the Halifax Chronicle-Herald that he was on the verge of declaring bankruptcy, retracted the statement within a few days, and then actually filed for bankruptcy several months later.
In 2003, MacIsaac was alleged to have made a racist statement on stage, at a show where he reportedly accused an Asian woman in the audience of spreading SARS. He subsequently stated that the comment was intended as an ironic parody of racism, and sued the Ottawa Citizen for misrepresenting the statement as racist when in fact he was speaking out against racial profiling happening in Canada at the time.
In 2005, MacIsaac signed on with Linus Entertainment, forming a rock band with himself on lead vocals and guitar.
In 2010, MacIsaac wrote a charity single, "Dreams", to benefit Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong, a skier from Ghana who was the first Ghanaian athlete ever to compete in the Winter Olympics. In addition to Matthew Harder of the band House of Doc and Geoffrey Kelly, Vince Ditrich and Tobin Frank of the band Spirit of the West, Nkrumah-Acheampong himself participated in the recording, playing traditional Ghanaian percussion. The single, credited to The Parallel Band, was released to iTunes on February 19, 2010. MacIsaac also performed in the opening ceremonies for the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.
MacIsaac has declared an interest in politics and has stated, in a letter to the National Post, that he is studying constitutional law so as to pursue an entry into Canadian federal politics.
In the March 20, 2006, edition of the Halifax Daily News, MacIsaac declared himself a candidate for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada. MacIsaac denied that his campaign was a publicity stunt, telling the Canadian Press that he fully intended to mount a serious campaign, but on June 21, 2006, he decided to no longer take part in the leadership race.
Fiddling With Disaster: Clearing the Past by Ashley Macisaac and Frank Condron
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Warwick Publishing (June 1, 2003)
Amazon: Fiddling With Disaster: Clearing the Past
With dark humour and sometimes brutal honesty, Celtic musician Ashley MacIsaac tells of his rise from fiddle-playing prodigy in the village of Creignish, Cape Breton, to worldwide success with his unique mixture of traditional and contemporary sounds.
By his late teens, MacIsaac was on tour and making big money. He describes the highs (of various kinds) of playing to thousands of fans; of performing with renowned artists like Paul Simon, Philip Glass, and the Chieftains; and of hearing his Gaelic-language hit "Sleepy Maggie" blast from a radio in Los Angeles.
But he doesn't shy away from the downside of fame, such as money problems, unwanted media scrutiny and an addiction to crack cocaine.
The unusual twist in these familiar challenges of early stardom is MacIsaac's struggle with his sexuality and with public attitudes towards a gay performer.
The strongest undercurrent, however, is MacIsaac's abiding connection to his Celtic culture. His descriptions of his musical training and development reveal his commitment to his art and the depth of tradition in Cape Breton on which it is based.
More LGBT Couples at my website: www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Real Life Romance
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