Morgan Toney – Combining Mi’kmaq and Celtic Music

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Juno Award Nominee and East Coast Music Award Winner, Morgan Toney is a Mi’kmaq traditional Celtic fiddler and singer from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

He got into music at a young age he was introduced to highly influential bands by his family. When he was seven years old, he was visiting his Uncle’s house and his Uncle had a Phil Collins Live in Concert DVD. Toney immediately fell in love with the idea of being a musician and performing for a crowd. He took the DVD home and watched it every day. He eventually took an interest in playing the drums and began drumming on his mother’s pots and pots, which led to her buying Toney his very own set of drums.

He played drums throughout his adolescence and transitioned to playing the fiddle after he graduated high school.   When he graduated high school, he knew he wanted to study music and signed up for various music programs across Nova Scotia. He enrolled in a Traditional Celtic Music Program at Cape Breton University, where he took fiddle lessons. When it comes to playing the fiddle, Toney said, “The fiddle – people say is the most difficult instrument to learn, and to master, and I feel like when I get to the age of 92, I feel like I’ll still be learning, and it fascinates me so much.” Toney has only been actively playing the fiddle for 5 years but has proven his excellence and dedication to this challenging instrument.

Toney eventually took lessons from different fiddlers across Nova Scotia. He performed at various events and parties in his community and noticed that when he played for Elders, they typically became uninterested in Celtic music after some time. He decided to try to fuse traditional Mi’kmaq music with Celtic music. One song he always really loved is the Mi’kmaq social song, “Ko’jua” and once he added Celtic flare with his fiddle, it instantly became a big hit. When it came to this mash-up, Toney said, “Taking two cultures of Cape Breton – the Mi’kmaq culture, the Mi’kmaq songs, the Mi’kmaq teachings, the Mi’kmaq philosophies, everything that makes me who I am – and blend it with the Celtic music of Cape Breton.” Toney now classified this genre of music as, “M’ikmaltic.”

It’s no secret that Toney is always working on his craft. In his downtime, he likes to turn off social media, go outdoors, and take his dog for walks.

Toney’s album Resilience came out in November of 2023, and it was positively received, earning various awards and nominations. He and his band are currently in the studio working on a new album.

You can find Morgan Toney on all streaming platforms.  

By Ann Marie Jacques

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