Irish Millie’s new band up for national folk music award

·4 min read

“It’s happening.”

The two-word Instagram message — sparking confusion, then sheer joy — was how Amelia Shadgett learned she and her fellow bandmates had received a 2023 Canadian Folk Music Awards nomination.

Shadgett, a 16-year-old fiddler and singer-songwriter who goes by the stage name Irish Millie, received the news during a regular day at Lakefield College School from bandmate Willow Marwood, a 16-year-old fiddle and banjo player.

After a quick search online, Millie confirmed Marwood’s surprise message.

It was, indeed, happening: Millie, Marwood and sister Fern Marwood, 20 — a troupe of young musicians with a shared passion for folk and traditional Irish music who, together, make up the band the Receivers — are nominated for Young Performer(s) of the Year.

“I called Willow and Fern and we kind of screamed into the phone for 10 minutes and then I called my mom and dad and they were really excited, too,” Millie told The Examiner. “It’s just a really thrilling feeling. To see our name up there, it’s a dream come true.”

Born and raised in Peterborough, where she still currently resides, Millie has had a passion for music from a young age. After hearing Natalie MacMaster — her “inspiration” — at the age of three, she was hooked. Millie began begging her parents for a fiddle — later receiving the instrument as a gift from her father and grandfather when she was six.

Millie’s father, Murray Shadgett, has played an instrumental role in the young performer’s journey as a musician, teaching and accompanying her on the guitar throughout the years while Millie honed her chops on the fiddle, guitar and piano and explored various musical genres — ultimately falling in love with East Coast, Bluegrass and contemporary “Trad” stylings. Millie soon found her own unique sound: lively, fast-paced and fun.

In 2020, during the pandemic, Millie recorded her first album, “Thirteen,” alongside her dad. The project earned Millie her first Canadian Folk Music Award nomination for Young Performer of the Year in 2022 — a nod that would turn out to have a significant impact on the trajectory of Millie’s career. At last year’s CFMA’s, the Marwood sisters, who hail from Carleton Place and formed the group The Broken Bridges, were nominated in the same category,

That’s when the fate for the fiddlers stepped in.

While Millie first met the sister about five years ago, they reconnected during the 2022 awards in Charlottetown, P.E.I.

They clicked.

“We met up at the awards and started playing and started playing on the island together over the course of about four days. It was really lovely and we figured we had really great chemistry,” recalled Millie.

At a Charlottetown coffee spot called Receiver Coffee Co. one morning, the three decided to put their chemistry to use.

“We decided we wanted to start a band together,” Millie said.

Naturally, the trio took on the name the Receivers as a nod to where it all began. A few weeks after the awards, they went to the home of producer Graham Lindsay and recorded, later releasing, three tracks: London Fog, Neptune and OMM.

Gregory Pastic at LaunchPad Records, mixed, mastered and released the tunes.

The offerings have earned the group their latest CFMA nomination. Millie and co are flying out to the awards in Vancouver, which kick off on Friday and wrap up on Sunday.

Regardless of the outcome, Millie says she’s just happy to be recognized for the Receivers’ work.

“It would be great to win but I feel honoured just being nominated and we as a band are honestly just excited to go,” she said.

Millie, who is no stranger to touring, playing venues from a young age, recently returned from Vermont, where the Receivers played a number of shows.

Once back in Peterborough, Millie plans to continue focusing on her sophomore solo album with her dad by her side accompanying on guitar.

Compared to her first album, listeners can expect a fresh approach to her familiar, trademark sound, said Millie.

“My second album is going to be a lot different from my first. It’s going to have a bit more of an electronic vibe to it, so I’m incorporating some synthesizer and bass lines to give it more of an electronic feeling,” Mille said.

“So me and my dad will be playing some fast-paced tunes; there’s going to be some electronic guitar. It’s going to be really cool.”

Looking ahead, Millie sees making music and performing as being her top priority. Open to new opportunities whenever they arise, Millie wants to take life and her career one step — at fiddle strum — at a time.

“With the Receivers, I can see us touring around the world. Honestly that would be my dream for us. I see myself touring as well, just travelling to different places and seeing the world and sharing my music with other people and making the world a better place.”

Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner