Malcolm Angus MacLeod (1898  1978) lived in the tiny village of Birch Plain, on Cape Breton s North Shore. His parents were Norman and Annie (Morrison), and he was one of six children. Like many of the Scottish people of the North Shore, his ancestors had emigrated from the Hebridean islands of Harris and Lewis. Malcolm Angus married Annie Mae MacDermid and worked as a fisherman, farmer, trapper and laborer. He attended Calvin Presbyterian Church serving as an elder and a leading Precentor of the scared psalms.

Malcolm Angus s reputation as a Gaelic singer began with the courting of early folklorists such as Helen Creighton, Diane Hamilton and Sidney Robertson Cowelle. By 1955, the year he traveled to Harvard University to perform, Malcolm Angus had already established a far-reaching reputation as an outstanding Gaelic singer and tradition bearer. Along with Tommy Peggy, Montana  Dan Morrison, and Danny Kenny MacLeod he performed in Harvard s Saunders Theater, one of the most noted acoustic venues of America. A now famous quote is as follows: After the event, while walking across the campus, Dan Morrison exclaimed, We could get Hollywood interested in our singing next!  Malcolm Angus MacLeod answered dryly, You better get your hay in first!  Several years later these men were recorded by Ralph Rinzler, which led to a performance at the 1965 Newport Festival, the infamous year that Bob Dylan appeared on the same stage with his electric band. In 1966 Malcolm Angus returned to Newport, along with his wife Annie Mae where fiddler Angus Chisholm was also a featured Cape Breton artist.

Malcolm Angus appears on all the classic album of Cape Breton music, Diane Hamilton s Nova Scotia Folk Music, Sidney Robertson Cowelle s Songs From Cape Breton Island, Rosemary Hutchinson s A Tribute To The North Shore Gaelic Singers and John Shaw s Gaelic Tradition in Cape Breton, released on two LPs by the Topic Label in 1978. The cover of Topic volume two features Ron Caplan s stunning photograph of Malcolm Angus holding a scythe, the quintessential portrait of a humble North Shore Gael. Malcolm Angus is featured prominently throughout all the prominent Gaelic Folklore collections, including Ron Caplan s collections of Gaelic precenting, which reside at the public archives of Nova Scotia and at the Angus L. MacDonald Library, at ST FX. Malcolm Angus contributes ten songs to Gaelstream, including three lovely duets with John Shaw (Seògan).

(Photo by Ronald Caplan)

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


Malcolm Angus MacLeod (Far Left), Boston, 1955
Danny Kenny Macleod, Tommy Peggy MacDonald, Dan Morrison and Norman MacAskill


The North Shore Singers,(right) with Sidney Robertson Cowelle (Center), Harvard, 1955


North Shore Singers at St. FX 1950's (Malcolm Angus Macleod, front row, far right)


Malcolm Angus Macleod, (far left) Newport Folk Festival, Rhode Island, 1965


Newport Festival Program, 1966

     

       
Malcolm Angus MacLeod's Gaelic Pslam Book


North Shore Precenting Soundsheet
Cape Breton's Magazine, 1978