Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
In one sense, the story of Canadian fiddler Frank Leahy is the story of Don Messer, the legendary Canadian fiddler and bandleader whose music Leahy heard around the kitchen table as he was growing up. Messer's family would eventually pass the master's instrument along to the younger man as a kind of torch, and Leahy would take it in hand in order to create the stage production Don Messer's Violin, in which he took on the role of his mentor. Yet Leahy also had classical training growing up, received a formal musical education, and has many more aspects to his career other than just producing tributes to a traditional Canadian Maritimes fiddler. Leahy's parents exposed him to a wide range of violin music growing up, including jazz and classical as well as the inevitable Don Messer broadcast. He studied violin at the Royal Conservatory of Music, receiving top marks. His studies went on at Wilfred Laurier University and he eventually earned a bachelor of arts degree there in music performance. With two other degrees under his belt he often suggests that critics not refer to him as "just" a fiddler, but to remember his status as the youngest competitor to walk away with the 1984 Canadian National Fiddling Championship first prize. Since then Leahy has performed in more than 1000 symphonic settings and pops concerts as a soloist. He received the honorary violin from his idol's daughter Dawn Messer in 1997. His first move with the instrument was to record a tribute for the CBC. The contract was the first involving a non-classical artist for the broadcasters. Leahy continued with the idea of Don Messer's Violin, creating a full-length stage production that has been presented with great success across Canada. The role of Messer vocalist Marg Osborne has been played by Canadian country and folk vocalist Catherine MacKinnon in many of the productions, with Leahy taking on the role of Messer, of course. Leahy is also producer, writer and co-star of the stage musicals Master Clash, Behind the Bows, and Road to Carnegie Hall, also featuring classical violinist Ed Minevich. He has a first cousin who performs in an Ontario-based Celtic group named Leahy.