Cape Breton Piano: Mary Jessie MacDonald

Descended from the Beatons of Mabou, Allister MacGillivray called Mary Jessie "one of our most dynamic and influential pianists" in his book "A Cape Breton Céilidh"

Born into a musical household, her mother Mairi Alasdair Raonuill was a violin player. Sometimes piano player Lila MacIssac would come home from Boston and play organ for Mairi.

When Mary Jessie was about 9, she started picking out chords on the organ, with her mothers help, and started playing with her mother at home in New Waterford. Various guests would come through and shed have the chance to hone her skills playing for fiddlers like Johnny MacNeil, Tom Marsh, Duncan MacQuarrie and Jim Odo.

In her late teens Winston Scotty Fitzgerald and Angus Chisolm were regular visitors at her home and she becan playing with them at dances and on the radio.

Moving to Boston as an adult she worked with Bill Lamey, John Campbel, and many others.

More recently, Mary Jessie has recorded with Natalie MacMaster on her album "My Roots are Showing".

To Home of Piano in Traditional Cape Breton Music
To Cape Breton Piano: Some Players Past and Present
Disclaimer: I am not an expert in the history, theory, or playing of Cape Breton Style piano accompiament. I am an eager student. If you find errors, lies, damn lies, ommissions etc etc etc within these pages, please do call it to my attention!

Le gach beannachd,
Roger Lane Reid