In 1975 Paul Cranford decided to leave Toronto and make Cape Breton his home. Paul was part of a unique wave of young musicians, artisans and back-to-the-landers of the 1960s and 70s. The story goes he arrived on the Island with a banjo … but quickly traded that instrument in for a fiddle.
Paul landed the job of lighthouse keeper on St. Paul’s Island within a week of arriving. Over a span of 20 years, with one month on and one month off, Paul attended parties and dances; and, when returning to work, the lighthouse’s isolation gave the space and time to practice, to digest what he’d heard, to study the old collections & recordings, and eventually compose. Through the friendship and encouragement of many local fiddlers and musicians he developed a vast musical network who helped shape his attitudes and honed his skills in the field of traditional music.
Paul has produced 9 publications, toward a planned 12 volume series. He has kept in circulation essential traditional tune books such as the Skye Collection ensuring their continued accessibility to learners and contemporary players alike. Paul also contributes to the Victoria Standard newspaper and contributed to many CD projects that aim to keep the Cape Breton fiddle tradition alive. In 2009 Paul was the Artist-in-Residence for the Celtic Colours International Festival and in 2011 he produced the Celtic Colours Festival Collection. In 2015 he was appointed the Patron of World Fiddle Day which is an international recognition. In 2017 he was honoured for his contributions to the preservation and promotion of Cape Breton’s fiddle music both by the Gaelic College and the NS Highland Village.
Paul’s exemplary volunteerism and contributions to the traditional music community strongly aligns with the values and commitment espoused by the Katharine McLennan Award. Paul graciously composed a tune titled The McLennan Award. To view, please click here.
This year’s artist is Paul’s close friend, Mr. Gordon Kennedy of Iron Art & Photography. To learn more about Gordon’s work you can visit his website here.