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Fiona MacGillivray (born April 19, 1989) is the lead singer of the Celtic group The Cottars. She has toured with the band extensively through North America, Europe and Japan. She shares the bill with her brother Ciarán MacGillivray, fiddler Claire Pettit and guitarist Bruce Timmins.
Fiona was born to songwriter Allister MacGillivray  and wife Beverly in the village of Albert Bridge on Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island. She credits her parents for her musical inspiration. Aside from her singing, they encouraged Fiona to play multiple instruments, including the harp, piano, tin whistle, bodhran, and bouzouki as well as pursue writing songs and music.
Fiona often credits Colm Wilkinson's Opera Ghost in Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera as being her first inspiration to sing. As a young child, she frequently performed for family friends such as Rita MacNeil and Tommy Makem. She also found a liking of the film set in CBC's period drama Pit Pony.
In 2000, Fiona and Ciarán were invited to perform on The Barra MacNeils' Christmas Special along with special guests The Ennis Sisters. Ciaran and Fiona performed two numbers to standing ovations. The program aired on Country Music Television in 2000.
Fiona's first professional recording came in 2001 for the compilation CD Cape Breton By Request, when she was 12 years old. Singing Jimmy Rankin's Farethee Well Love, she was the only artist on the compilation asked to submit a previously unrecorded track.
With The Cottars
In 2000, Fiona and her brother met their future bandmates, the MacKenzie siblings from Baddeck at a festival on the island of Iona. The following Christmas, the foursome (at this point, unnamed) had their first performance, A Child's Celtic Christmas, at the Highland Heights Inn Resort in Iona. They commenced touring regularly. During the summer of the following year, the quartet performed for hockey legends Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull, and Joe Sakic at a private banquet. In the fall of 2001, during The Celtic Colours Festival, The Cottars were presented with "The Tic Butler Music Award" for the preservation of Cape Breton culture.
In 2002, The Cottars were featured in Irish Tenor John McDermott's PBS production A Time to Remember, and were introduced to their future agent, Pam McDermott (no relation) of McDermott Entertainment.
In 2002 The Cottars released their first CD Made in Cape Breton, on Warner Music. The disc, with single Tom Waits's The Briar and the Rose, showcased John McDermott's vocals along with Fiona's in two duets. The CD won an East Coast Music Award for Best New Artist in February of the following year and a nomination for Best Artist. The ECMA broadcast also featured Fiona in the group's live rendition of their single, which was received with a standing ovation. The performance was nominated for an Emmy Award.
The band toured successfully in promotion of Made In Cape Breton, this time giving private performances for Senator Ted Kennedy and his family in Massachusetts. Back home in Canada, a CBC-TV special entitled Meet The Cottars was aired across the country. Later in the year, the group appeared at several major North American music-festivals (including Newport Folk Festival, sharing the bill with Bob Dylan).
On June 8, 2004, the quartet released a second CD, On Fire on Warner Music. The disc won them an ECMA for Best Traditional Group. In the same year, The Cottars also taped a CBC-TV 1-hour special with the world-famous Chieftains of Ireland.
In the fall, they recorded their third CD Forerunner in studios in Nashville and Cape Breton, which was released on Rounder Records in 2005. It featured two new Tom Waits covers by Fiona; "Georgia Lee" and "Hold On".
Cottars no more
In July 2006, after extensive touring in Canada, America, Europe, and Japan, it was announced that the group would disband, citing disagreements between the two pairs of siblings. Although it was Ciaran and Fiona MacGillivray who were reported as ending the professional relationship first, new tour dates were soon scheduled featuring a new arrangement in which the MacKenzie siblings were not included. Claire Pettit, also 16, a new fiddler who divides her time between New York and Cape Cape Breton was integrated successfully into The Cottars along with guitarist Bruce Timmons to form the new band.
- Tom Waits — Fiona has recorded three Tom Waits songs to date. ("The Briar and the Rose", "Georgia Lee", "Hold On")
- Rufus Wainwright
- The Beatles
- John Lennon — While on tour with The Cottars, Fiona reportedly paid a visit to Yoko Ono's John Lennon Forever Museum in Japan
- Cape Breton By Request (2000) — Sings Jimmy Rankin's "Farethee Well Love"
- Made in Cape Breton (2002)
- On Fire (2004)
- Forerunner (2005)
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