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, last year, while her independent instructional video on Cabasa, released on Youtube in 2013, continues today to be one of the most-watched Cabasa tutorials world-wide.
In 2013, Cathy was presented with the Musician’s Achievement Award by the East Coast Music Association, the first woman in ECMA history to receive the honour.
Freelancing as musician-for-hire has taken her on extensive tours throughout the US and Canada, Western Europe, and to Brazil with Mary Jane Lamond and Wendy MacIsaac, the Rankin Family, Natalie MacMaster, Dave Gunning, Madison Violet, Bruce Guthro, Dave Carroll of United Breaks Guitars, Meaghan Smith, Amelia Curran, Susan Crowe, Alan Syliboy's Lonecloud and the Thundermakers, Canadian French Medieval group L'Ensemble a Part, and as an original cast member in the musical production of DRUM!
Cathy has also made numerous appearances with countless other artists including Rose Cousins, Alex Cuba, George Canyon, Jill Barber, Mo Kenney, Lennie Gallant, Ron Hynes, Ember Swift, Matt Andersen, Terry Kelly, and the MIR Supershows, backing Sarah Slean, Divine Brown, Paula Cole (Peter Gabriel), and Men at Work's Colin Hay.
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, projected release 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 many years. She 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), and in 2005 she served as Co-Artistic Director with singer-songwriter Susan Crowe in a theatrical tribute to internationally acclaimed poet Elizabeth Bishop.
As Halifax's Centre for Art Tapes first Audio Scholarship recipient in 1990, Cathy created an audio piece entitled "Souls in the Rinse Cycle" and invited Toronto-based choreographer/dancer (and sister) Sara Porter to help present the piece, which continued on with independent performances 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 most recently for Canadian modern dance icon Peggy Baker.
Cathy is currently on a research and development trip to Austria (2019-2020) to continue work on four brand new percussion instructional videos, and to further explore options for 5th-business abroad.