Barry Shears, born in Glace Bay, Cape Breton, NS, in 1956, is an acknowledged expert on the history of traditional piping in Nova Scotia and its intrinsic connection to the Gaelic language, music and culture. An accomplished musician, Barry has performed at concerts and festivals throughout North America, as well as in Scotland and Europe, a highlight of which was a live to air broadcast on Radio France where, along with other well known CB musicians - John Morris Rankin of the Rankin family, violinist Jerry Holland and guitarist David MacIsaac, the unique, uplifting and wonderful sound of Cape Breton music was introduced to a wide European audience. In 1981 Barry performed with the late Stan Rogers and John Allan Cameron on a series of concerts in Nova Scotia and Scotland.
[Right: Cape Bretoners in Paris, 1990]
[Below left: Pipe Major's Course, Ottawa, 1980]
His own CD, A Cape Breton Piper is his tribute to this traditional, Gaelic- based piping style and has been very well received, not only by lovers of bagpipe music but to fans of all forms of Celtic music. Barry is also a composer of pipe tunes and, along with winning third prize in a world-wide piping composition contest sponsored by the famous Highland single malt scotch producer Grant's Distillery on its 100th anniversary, his work has appeared in books and recordings of other Celtic musicians. In addition, Barry has played the role of a piper in the made for television movie "Baby" with Farrah Fawcett, Keith Carradine, and Jean Stapleton; performed and arranged the bagpipe music for the critically acclaimed Canadian movie 'Margaret's Museum' starring Helena Bonham Carter.
[Left: Barry Shears with his brothers, L-R David, Earl, George and Barry.]
Originally a competitive piper, Barry has won the Champion Supreme trophy in NS an unrivalled six times and holds a Pipe Major Certificate from the Canadian Armed Forces as well as senior teaching certificates from the College of Piping in Glasgow, Scotland.
However, his passion for the last 25 years has been to interview and record the last of the traditional style pipers in Nova Scotia and to share their music and stories with others. In addition to teaching and performing this piping style at workshops throughout North America, he has authored three books on traditional pipe music in NS with pictures of the pipers and written settings of many of the tunes they played. He holds a Masters degree from Saint Mary's University in Halifax based on his work on this subject and a fourth book on the history of traditional piping in Nova Scotia, published by Cape Breton University Press, was released in August, 2008.
[Right: Scottish smallpipes class, Vermont, 2008]