Bette MacDonald is a Gemini Award winner and a multiple Canadian Screen Award nominee. She has starred in two CBC television series and has been a guest on many including This Hour Has 22 Minutes and Made In Canada. She has appeared as guest host on CBC radio’s Madly Off In All Directions and was a long- time favourite headliner at the Halifax Comedy Festival. Bette stars in and is co-writer, along with her brother Ed Macdonald, of, Tis The Season, a holiday themed show that began as a one night stand fifteen years ago and has since toured Nova Scotia and beyond, playing to packed houses and rave reviews. She is a member of the wildly popular, Island Girls, sharing the stage with Jenn Sheppard, Lucy MacNeil and Heather Rankin. For eight seasons, Bette played school secretary, Trudy Walsh, on the hit CBC television series, Mr. D, for which she won a Nova Scotia Screen Award.
Bette has been a keen supporter of Stone & Sand & Sea & Sky Coastal ARTS Festival since its inception and is delighted to host the festival’s launch.
Second Wind Community Concert Band
Second Wind Community Concert Band is in its 29th season of creating ‘Music for Life’ for many residents from many walks of life, in the CBRM. Second Wind Community Concert Band was founded by conductor and music educator, Laura Mercer in 1993 who remains the current conductor of the band.
Many of the members started their music experience when Laura created the band but through the years as the band evolved, former students, other music teachers, professional musicians and lapsed musicians joined the 40+ member group. SWCCB, with members who were or are leaders in their own chosen professions, has developed into a warm sounding and accomplished ensemble performing concerts throughout the year. Proceeds from these concerts have supported various community organizations including Every Woman’s Centre, The Music Therapy Program for The Hospice Palliative Care Society of Cape Breton County and Feed Nova Scotia.
The band has become like a family caring for its members and for the community. An exciting part of the growth of Second Wind is their desire to create a beginning level for those who would like to learn to play, called the MacKay Level, as they did when founded almost 30 years ago. They know the value of making music.
The band has had many wonderful experiences playing the music of established composers and arrangers such as Scott Macmillan, Howard Cable and Ron MacKay. They’ve had the opportunity to share the stage with Scott, Leon Dubinsky, Sam Moon and Colin Grant among others, and look forward to playing a key role in the launch of Stone & Sand & Sea & Sky Coastal ARTS Festival.
SWCCB is proud of their accomplishments over the years such as getting their commissioned piece Mercer’s March on the Department of Education’s book list for instruction to Band students, helping to develop The Ron MacKay Music for Life Adult Community Band Program at NSCC Marconi Campus, supporting the importance of instrumental music in the schools thereby encouraging a life-long engagement with music, and commissioning Scott Macmillan to write a chart for their 25th anniversary. Scott composed A Gift of Time which they performed with him at their 25th celebration.
Laura has gathered many retired music educators and now has a wonderful artistic team helping achieve the excellence they strive for. Music For Life and Community Helping Community are two of the main threads as they continue to weave the beautiful tapestry that is Second Wind Community Concert Band.
Born and raised in New Waterford, Cape Breton (where the sun shines just a little brighter), Jenn Sheppard has always considered herself to be a small-town girl and is proud of the fact.
“I love to perform on stage, I love to communicate with an audience and I love being busy performing. It’s also wonderful to travel and experience the rush of a big city. At my core though, I think I’m happiest when I’m quietly standing next to the sea, in Cape Breton.”
Jenn has a vast catalogue of musical experiences, from tribute shows to musicals and everything in between. Most recently, Jenn has had the opportunity to work closely with Heather Rankin (The Rankin Family), Lucy MacNeil (The Barras MacNeils) and Bette MacDonald in the original music and comedy touring hit show, Island Girls.
With so many musical and comedic experiences in her history, in 2021 Jenn decided it was as good a time as any to share her songwriting with the world. With the help of some incredible talents, like Fred Lavery and her husband Stephen Muise, she penned a 13-track original album, titled The Good Ground. The songs are brought to life by amazing musicians who each brought their own good vibes to The Good Ground.
Mary Jane Lamond
Mary Jane Lamond has felt blessed to have been able to immerse herself, through play and work, in her passion for the Gaelic song tradition of Nova Scotia for close to three decades. Mary Jane has been both nominated for and has garnered various industry awards including ECMAs, MNS awards, Junos and Canadian Folk Music Awards.
Mary Jane first heard the song Stone and Sand in the 90’s and its beauty stayed with her. She rarely sings English songs around the house but this song was an exception. Mary Jane is so pleased to have been asked to lend her vocals to the 2016 re-recording and is so happy that the sentiments expressed in it are inspiring a new festival in Cape Breton.
Looking back to 1977, Sam Moon fondly remembers the Tarbot Festival where artists of all ages participated in a showcase of Cape Breton music and song. And now the tradition continues this spring. He’s looking forward to being a featured performer at There’s Something in the Wind on June 18 with Second Wind Community Concert Band at the Savoy Theatre. And to being part of the launch of Stone & Sand & Sea & Sky Coastal Arts Festival, a brand-new annual arts festival.
Sam has been fortunate to have had the opportunity to share the stage with over a hundred musicians in his 57 years on the road, from coast to coast. Playing festivals, concerts and clubs and sometimes backing major acts like The Beach Boys, The Band and many more.
These memories have inspired the songs Sam has written and the stories he’s told. Sam is looking forward to sharing some of these with you in Glace Bay on stage at Savoy Theatre.
Jordan Musycsyn is a hardworking singer/songwriter and a masterful storyteller writing songs about life and love with pathos and humour in a folk style. Drawing on his own life experiences he writes relatable songs of love, loss and the human condition. A dynamic performer, Jordan moves the audience from laughter to tears and back again. His first album The Pitch (released in the fall of 2014) was nominated for two Music Nova Scotia awards. His sophomore album Old State Of Mind was also nominated for a MNS award. Jordan’s most recent album Around The Fire garnered him an East Coast Music Award. He has toured across the Maritimes and across Canada many times playing his songs solo, with his band, with the Cape Breton Summertime Revue and Bette MacDonald’s Christmas show Tis The Season.
Isabella Samson is an up and coming East Coast Artist who has been a part of her local music scene for a number of years.At the age of sixteen she released her debut album If It’s Not Forever, and at 17 she was nominated for Music Nova Scotia’s Award for Acadian/Francophone Artist of the Year 2021. In March of 2022 Isabella was recognized with the Canadian Folk Music Award for Youth Performer of the Year. Isabella and her band, Barn Bhreagh, spent the Summer playing all around Nova Scotia and the Atlantic Provinces for their 2021 Fingers Crossed Tour. They appeared at Lunenburg Folk Festival, Celtic Colours International Festival, Prismatic Festival, Blueberry Jam, and many others. Isabella’s debut album has recently been released on all streaming platforms. Isabella is looking forward to how her music will sound, arranged by Scott Macmillan, for Second Wind Community Concert Band.
Zion Stephens is a multitalented young woman from Baddeck, Cape Breton Island. She has been performing since she was very young and has appeared in a myriad of theatre productions, events and at venues that have showcased and honed her powerful voice and endearing onstage presence. The Bells of Baddeck, Annie – The Musical, Bunny, Disco Nights, The Drowsy Chaperone, The Wizard of Oz and Beauty and the Beast are productions she has been cast in here on the Island. Her achievements include being chosen as one of the 100 African Nova Scotia Youth to meet President Barack Obama in 2019, instructing sailing at the Bras d’or Yacht Club and being asked to sing Rise Again at the CBU Spring Convocation in 2021. Perhaps her most notable and favourite role was “Elsa” in the Highland Arts Theatre (Sydney, NS) 2021 production of Disney’s FROZEN which was brought back by popular demand and enjoyed over 20 sold out shows. Her grace and vocal prowess were highly praised and many of the children she meets now fondly call her Elsa! Zion is currently studying Medical Sciences at Dalhousie University.
Nicole Deveau is an Acadian singer-songwriter from Chéticamp. She has been sharing her pride in her culture through music for several years now. With the help of le Conseil des arts de Chéticamp as well as la Société Saint-Pierre, she loves passing on her love of music to others, young and old. She is the music teacher at her childhood school, École NDA, and is the proud owner of l’École de musique Raveston Music School in her hometown. Whether she’s on stage, in the classroom, or at a party, she enthusiastically shares the traditional music as well as her own compositions with people around her. She believes her ancestors built a great foundation for Acadian culture and music is the ideal way of sharing its values.
Erin O’Brien & Suite 115
Erin O’Brien & Suite 115 are a collaborative group based out of Sydney, Nova Scotia, formed as songwriters and students from the NSCC Music Arts program at Marconi Campus. Members Erin O’Brien, Steve MacIntyre and Nik MacDonald each bring a wide variety of musical knowledge and experience to the table resulting in a unique blend of country, rock, and folk.
Their school project and 2021 single We’ll Be Together Again has been called the “pandemic song of hope” by national news. Having studied music with the highest calibre of musicians that Cape Breton has to offer, Erin O’Brien & Suite 115 were able to craft their high-quality songs under the guidance of Grammy Award winner Gordie Sampson and established veteran musicians Aaron C. Lewis and Kimberley Fraser.
Scott Macmillan’s passion for creating music propels him forward, seeking opportunities in all aspects of music making, inspiring exploration into genres from rock to blues, classical to choral, Celtic to jazz, as well as modern and avant-garde.
Music has taken Scott to many places nationally and internationally including Carnegie Hall performing his much-loved ode to our world’s oceans Celtic Mass for the Sea, with his partner and librettist Jennyfer Brickenden.
Multiple awards, appointments, commissions and critical reviews reflect his success establishing his contribution to the music of Nova Scotia and beyond over his 40+ year career.
In 2005 Macmillan co-consulted with Brickenden and the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) to design and develop curriculum for the Music Arts Program, which launched in 2007. In 2008 Scott received an Honourary Diploma from NSCC School of Applied Arts & New Media.
Starting in 2008 Scott began mentoring a new generation of guitarists at the Fountain School of Performing Arts, Dalhousie University.
The collaboration between Stone & Sand & Sea & Sky Coastal ARTS Festival, Second Wind Community Concert Band and NSCC Music Arts and Applied Media & Communication Arts programs to present There’s Something in the Wind is particularly exciting to Scott. Bringing together musicians of all calibres, professional, student and community, exploring these synergetic relationships will be of tremendous value to all involved.
Eighteen-year-old Emma Stevens from Eskasoni First Nation (NS) has become a music sensation all before graduating high school. With the release of Steven’s debut song My
Unama’ki in 2018, her musical journey was just beginning. My Unama’ki, a celebration of the strength and resiliency of Mi’kmaq culture in Cape Breton has become Steven’s signature song and is regularly a part of events across Cape Breton Island.
As an artist, Emma is passionate about bringing awareness to important issues facing First Nations people across Canada, including the loss of language and the staggering number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG). In 2019, Emma recorded Paul McCartney’s Blackbird in Mi’kmaq to help bring awareness to the United Nations’ observance of the International Year of Indigenous Languages. Since its release, Steven’s version of Blackbird has garnered international attention and has helped bring awareness to various efforts being undertaken to revitalize endangered Indigenous languages around the world, notably so in Steven’s own Mi’kma’ki where there are fewer than 10,000 speakers of the Mi’kmaq language remaining.
Stevens has performed across Canada and internationally with performances in Nairobi, Kenya, Abu Dhabi, Parliament Hill in Ottawa and the UAE for United Nations assemblies where she sang and spoke to leaders and policy-makers from around the world.
On July 1, 2021, Steven’s released I Want to Rise, a song written to help bring awareness to the more than 4000 missing and murdered First Nations women and girls from across Canada and the many thousands more MMIW in the USA, and, as well, to help empower First Nations youth to rise above the many challenges they face being indigenous youth in Canada today.
Educator, musician and producer, Carter Chiasson, is based on Cape Breton Island (NS), where, for the past 9 years he has taught high school music and technological arts in Eskasoni First Nation, the largest Indigenous community in Eastern Canada.
As an educator, Carter is passionate about working with youth to create authentic and unique experiences and artworks. Carter regularly uses music and various technologies to help students engage with, share and celebrate their cultural identities as well as address local and systemic social issues.
Carter’s original film and music projects with youth have been featured on national and international stages. Highlights include the creation of original musical works for the National Orchestra of Canada, performances at United Nations events in Africa and the Middle East, a performance for Canadian delegates at the Pan American games in Peru and the quarantine Ancient and Forever featuring students and musicians from across Cape Breton singing in four different languages.
Most recently, Carter created a Mi’kmaw land-based educational series on YouTube called, Panuijkatmnej. Projects Carter has produced have been acknowledged by world leaders and such high-profile artists as Paul McCartney. In 2020, Carter was awarded the MusicCounts Music Teacher of the Year JUNO, a Canada wide award honoring his work in music education.
Presently, Carter is working on a variety of music and film projects with students in Eskasoni, various local and national organizations and a number of local artists.
Em Dingwall is a Cape Breton-based musician who is often sought out for her smooth harmonies, soulful bass additions and her chameleon-like ability to blend into any musical situation on the fly.
Self-taught as a bass player, guitarist and vocalist, Em has worked tirelessly to hone her craft, playing/recording/touring with some of the industry’s busiest musicians such as Matt Minglewood, Gordie Sampson, J.P Cormier, Matt Andersen, Heather Rankin, Lucy MacNeil, Jenn Sheppard, Bette MacDonald, Kimberley Fraser, Adam Young and Steven MacDougall along with many other local talents.
In 2012-2014, Em had the invaluable experience of recording and touring across Canada with award-winning multi-instrumentalist, J.P. Cormier. The pair traveled as a performance duo to a long list of Atlantic music festivals and shared the stage with the likes of Ricky Skaggs.
In 2014 Em joined The Canadian Legendary Matt Minglewood Band. The Band’s most recent album “Fly Like Desperados” won an ECMA for Blues Recording of the Year. When Em isn’t Rockin’ the Blues, she regularly takes the stage with Cape Breton’s popular Celtic-Rock band, The Privateers. Em also enjoys playing with RoSa – a duo act, featuring Emily’s sister, Jen. RoSa has enjoyed some radio success with an original album titled “Spoken out Loud”.
Stephen Muise has been the musical director of Cape Breton Summertime Revue and has produced and directed the successful Legends series for the Savoy Theatre. He is band leader of the very popular “go to” Cape Breton bands High Society and Privateers. Stephen has performed with east coast legends Rita MacNeil, The Rankin Family, Bruce Guthro and Matt Minglewood, and has recorded with many more. He is the current musical director of Cape Breton’s coalminers’ choir The Men of the Deeps. Most recently Stephen was the musical arranger and co-producer of his wife, Jenn Sheppard’s, debut album The Good Ground and musical director for Island Girls. Stephen is a music educator with the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional Education Centre, and during his teaching career, has been afforded the opportunity to front a large number of concert bands and vocal groups. Stephen is putting together a stellar rhythm section to play alongside The Second Wind Community Concert Band and is looking forward to playing a pivotal musical role in the launch of Stone & Sand & Sea & Sky Coastal ARTS Festival.
As guitarist, songwriter, record producer and owner of Lakewind Sound Studios, Fred Lavery has worked with many of this region’s most established artists. Multiple ECMAs and Music Nova Scotia Awards, along with the QE II Jubilee Medal are recognition of his dedication to excellence. Fred also loaned his incredible talents to the Christmas Daddies House band for many years and was co-musical director of the return of the Cape Breton Summertime Revue. Most recently, Fred toured as a guitarist with The Island Girls Music and Comedy show.
Andrew Alcorn is a graduate of the St.F.X. music program with a classical degree, a Jazz Diploma and a Graduate studies certificate in arranging and improvisation. He spent some time in Toronto doing freelance work before returning to Nova Scotia to begin his 30-year teaching career. He had the good fortune to work alongside his wife Janice (vocalist, choir director) for most of these years building a well-rounded and reputable program. He taught all levels of bands from elementary to high school, including concert bands, jazz bands and a variety of instrumental ensembles. His bands were often top award winners at local, provincial and national festivals. His three daughters are all enjoying a life in the music industry as well.
Alcorn was president of the Nova Scotia Band Association from 2001-2005. Andrew was a director with Nova Scotia Honours Jazz and Acadia jazz camp staff for over 20 years. He has been a clinician and presenter with provincial youth ensembles and conferences throughout his career in all Atlantic provinces. He is the recipient of the “Excellence in Teaching” award, the NSMEA “Lifetime Achievement” award and the Nova Scotia Band Association’s “Master Teacher” award.
When he is not teaching, Andrew can be found performing, arranging or recording with any one of many top Nova Scotian ensembles including the Stadacona Band, The Back Alley Big Band, Dave Gunning, Latin Groove, Carson Downey, Nova Brass, Ellavation, Doris Mason, Charlie Acourt, The Hubtown Big Band, The Neon Soul Machine, Sounds of Motown and many others.
Andrew retired from teaching in 2016 and is enjoying performing, recording, conducting, adjudicating, arranging, cycling, kayaking, carpentry, and quality time with his family.
Janice (Durning) Alcorn, New Glasgow born and raised, has had a full musical life.
Her early career was mainly focused on classical vocal performance. She was the recipient of both the New Glasgow and Halifax Rose bowl awards for top overall performer after completing her BA Music degree from St.F.X.
She branched out in many musical settings to excel in classical, gospel, jazz, RnB and traditional Maritime genres of music. The Chairman of the St.F.X. music program gave her the title “Chameleon” for her ability to cover so many styles so well.
Janice has performed as featured soloist on Handel’s “The Messiah,” Rutter’s “Gloria” and other choral works. She has vast experience in musical theatre as a performer in shows including Mikado, Oklahoma, Godspell, and the role of Maria in West Side story. She has also been musical director in over 20 Broadway style musicals.
She has been featured soloist with the John Alphonse Big Band, Dave James Big Band, Acadia Faculty Big Band, Hub town Big Band, and the Ghost Rider Blues Band. She has led many of her own jazz small groups and has performed with a wide array of Maritime artists. Janice is also an active church soloist
As an educator and choir director, Janice has had a very colorful 35-year career. She has directed church choirs, provincial youth choirs, NS Honour Jazz choirs, Community choirs and her own elementary, junior and senior high concert and jazz choirs. Many of these groups have earned, local, provincial, and even National recognition for their stellar performances. Her private voice studio has also produced many successful performers of all ages. Janice is the recipient of the “Excellence in Teaching” award and the NSMEA “Lifetime Achievement” award.
Janice is a sought-after adjudicator, clinician, and performer. Her encouraging and uplifting style of teaching has fostered many music lovers and performers over the years.
Since retiring from teaching, Janice continues to enjoy performing, coaching, accompanying, gardening and other outdoor activities. Her happiest times are spent with her ever-expanding family (the next generation!)
Laura Mercer spent many of her years as an instrumental music teacher in the Nova Scotia schools. Her motto of “Music for Life” has been worn on her sleeve and evidence of this is seen as she has guided so many into playing or to further their studies. She founded Second Wind Community Concert Band in 1993, where folk as young as 14 up to 82 have been playing with so much joy. Some were novice and some have lapsed and returned to music and many are seasoned musicians, educators and in the profession of music. Laura’s love of the music industry, festivals and the joy of creating music with the community musician are vitamins to her soul. Ultimately bringing professional and amateur musicians together as often as possible is the reward for her efforts.
Gearl Francis is an indigenous hip hop artist from Eskasoni, NS. Gearl’s mandate is to share his personal experiences of the indigenous lifestyle in the Maritimes as well as spread appreciation and knowledge of the Mi’kmaq language and culture. In 2020 Gearl started his journey as a solo artist with his first studio album release (Reziduals). Followed by his sophomore album (From The Ground Up) released in the fall of 2021.
A native of Charlottetown, Rowan FitzGerald taught instrumental music in the PEI school system for 30 years. Since his retirement in 2010, he has remained active as a guest conductor, clinician and adjudicator. In 2009, he co-founded the Second Chances Community Band in Charlottetown, where he currently co-conducts approximately 60 musicians, ranging in age from 25 to 90.
Rowan’s musical collaborations with Laura Mercer began when, together, they ran a Grade 9 Band Exchange program in the spring of 1992. It was Laura who introduced him to the joy of making music with adult musicians, in a community band setting, by inviting him to work with her delightful Second Wind Community Concert Band 25 years ago!