A short bio.
A versatile and engaging performer on washboard, accordion, piano, flute, vocals, and her signature array of hand percussion, Cathy Porter is an award-winning staple on Canada's East Coast music scene.
Her latest project, 5th-business, released its debut recording, Volume 1; Collection in a Cup, in 2016, while her original tutorial on a niche percussion instrument called Cabasa (2013) continues to be one of the most-watched Cabasa instructional videos on YouTube.
In 2013, Cathy was presented with the Musician’s Lifetime Achievement Award by the directors of the East Coast Music Association, becoming the first woman in ECMA history to receive the honour.
Cathy has also made numerous appearances with countless other artists including Rose Cousins, Alex Cuba, George Canyon, Jill Barber, Mo Kenney, Carleton Stone, Lennie Gallant, Ron Hynes, Ember Swift, Matt Andersen, Terry Kelly, and the MIR Supershows, backing Sarah Slean, Divine Brown, Paula Cole (Peter Gabriel), and Colin Hay (Men at Work).
As founding member of folk-jazz ensemble Rose Vaughan Trio (Sweet Tarragon,1992; Fire in the Snow, 1993; Winter Rose, 1996; A Winter's Tide, 2006; Gardeners of the Moon, 2016) and the funky cajun-country group, Dave Carmichael Band (Perspective, 1997), Cathy has been co-writing, co-arranging, and co-producing original material for over three decades. In 2018, Cathy became consultant to the Stone & Sand & Sea & Sky Coastal ARTS Festival, named after a popular song she co-wrote with Rose Vaughan in 1992. The festival's inaugural show was successfully launched in 2022 at the Savoy Theatre in Glace Bay, NS.
Cathy went on to co-produce albums with Eric Fresia (Down at the Opera, 2004 - from which the cut "Gabriella" won Best Song in the World Music category of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest), and for the late fiddler Fleur Mainville in her acoustic vocal recording debut (Once, 2011). Cathy continues this work with the launch of her current project, 5th-business, which presents her songwriting, arranging and production in a variety of styles, and assembles some of the most interesting and diverse vocalists and musicians on Canada’s East Coast.
Her co-write, "Merry Christmas, Lonely Cowboy" (2008), recorded by both George Canyon and Dave Gunning, has become a perennial radio favourite. In 2010, CBC-TV commissioned ice dance choreography to accompany the song, performed live by George Canyon, for the network's annual Holiday Festival on Ice.
Several Aeolian Singers' International Women's Day events (Halifax, NS) have featured Cathy's work with the Rose Vaughan Trio, including commissioned arrangements for choir (to which she added Barbershop-style choreography). In 2005 she served as Co-Artistic Director with singer-songwriter Susan Crowe and the Aeolians in a theatrical tribute to NS poet Elizabeth Bishop.
As Halifax's Centre for Art Tapes first audio scholarship recipient in 1990, Cathy created a sound piece entitled "Souls in the Rinse Cycle" and commissioned Toronto-based choreographer/dancer (and sister) Sara Porter to perform for its debut. Sara later performed the piece at independent venues in Madrid, Edinburgh, Montreal, and Toronto.
A long-time accompanist for ballet and modern dance classes on both piano and percussion, Cathy has worked on and off since 1989 for the Halifax Dance Association (HDA), Dance Nova Scotia (DANS), Montreal's Les Ballet Jazz, and for Canadian modern dance icon Peggy Baker at Leica Hardy School of Dance in Dartmouth.
Most recently, Cathy spent four years living on both sides of the Atlantic, developing a travel-hosting business with her Austrian business partner, but the pandemic derailed their plans, and Cathy has returned home with a renewed passion for life and new work at home in Nova Scotia.