Alumna fiddles while career burns bright


By Paul Mayne, Western News

From creating and running her own website, social media and booking gigs, to acting as agent, promoter, musical director and performing, Celina Di Cecca is a hands-on CEO of her ‘mini corporation.’

“It is hard work some days. But I love it and wouldn’t want to do anything else,” said the Don Wright Faculty of Music alumna. “Music is my religion. It moves me; it’s very cathartic; it’s therapeutic to get you through good times and bad times. You always have music with you.”

And that’s true for Di Cecca who, at age 4 growing up in Hamilton, Ont., picked up her first violin.

“I was the youngest of three kids, so I was kind of the showoff of the siblings,” she said, adding her brother, mom and grandfather are musicians themselves. “It’s a big part of my family and just felt normal to me. I guess it’s in the blood. Every Christmas, or at family gatherings, we’d have our musical instruments out. And we still do to this day.”

After attending her first fiddle camp at age 12, and being exposed to the toe-tapping rhythms of fiddle music, she fell in love with Canadian Celtic music. Having wowed audiences now for more than 20 years performing both classical and fiddle music throughout Canada – including creating the Great Canadian Fiddle Show, the Greyhound Riders and her solo work – it wasn’t until Di Cecca came to Western that she knew music was her going to be her life.


“The music program at Western is well known and respected in Ontario and Canada and I had known some folks who had gone through the program,” said Di Cecca who, while in first year, put together a string quartet with some fellow students to play weddings and corporate gigs to help pay for her schooling.

“I was like, ‘Wow, I’m actually making a pretty good wage compared to your regular student job,’” said the 32-year-old. “I started to gig more, was building my confidence, putting groups together and playing at Scots Corner (in London). Although I always wanted to be a musician, I never knew being a musician was really a job.”

Along with teaching private lessons (fiddle, violin, viola, mandolin and piano), Di Cecca’s talents and stage performance makes her a highly sought after live and studio musician in Toronto. She has performed with such notable musicians as Kevin Hearn (Barenaked Ladies), Heather Rankin (The Rankin Family), Shane Cook, Mark Sullivan and Jake Charron (East Pointers).

Her most recent creation is producing, directing and performing in The Great Canadian Fiddle Show, which has played Canada’s Wonderland, the Canadian National Exhibition, the Grey Cup and countless tours over the last five years.

Di Cecca is also in a variety of bands including the Toronto based folk-roots duo Greyhound Riders, with her husband Tony Nesbitt-Larking, The Amores and has recently joined Toronto rock band Sirens of Shant. She’s also a founding member of Steel City Rovers and has performed with the Tartan Terrors.

It was during her time at Western where she first started to dabble in songwriting, having written dozens of songs over the years. With plans to record all of the music she wrote, Di Cecca recently released her debut single, Waiting.

While the life of a musician can be one filled with many lows and few highs, Di Cecca said she is “all in” when it comes to her music.

“I jumped in, set goals and, like my mom always taught me, I never took ‘no’ for an answer and dug my heels into the ground,” she said. “If you want something hard enough, you need to work for it. I’ve always done that. Being at Western, while the music program is challenging, at the same time, it builds your skills. Western really built my confidence as both a player and teacher. It has played a key role in my music career.”

Di Cecca will be bringing her Great Canadian Fiddle Show to London’s Aeolian Hall next March for a pair of shows and looks forward to sharing what she calls “a musical journey from coast to coast” of traditional Canadian fiddling.

“We show them (audience) fiddling is alive across the country; it’s not just an East Coast thing,” she said. “There are different dialects and accents across Canada, so too are there different styles when it comes to fiddling. It’s our traditional music and we want to keep it alive.

“It’s fulfilling putting smiles on so many faces, from little kids mesmerized by seeing the fiddle for the first time, to the seniors who know all about its history. It’s wonderful to share music with everyone.”

Reprinted with permission from Western News

Rodeo Announcer Keeps Things Interesting

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Joe Scully has worn many hats in his career as an announcer. He is a DJ and has done live commentary for Motorsports and other sporting events. He is also a Race Director, but the hat he is most comfortable in would probably have to be his cowboy hat and his role as a Rodeo Announcer:

“I analyse a performance or competition and find a way to enhance the spectator experience by highlighting storylines as they develop.” Scully says that in most cases, “the competitors are unknown to the general spectator”. So, it is his job to give the crowd a reason to cheer the competitors on “and also [for them] to begin to appreciate the intricacies of what comprises a successful run or ride.”

For Scully, “The ultimate goal is to make this commentary interesting and intriguing for first-time spectators.” He also finds a way to keep things interesting for those who continually come out to rodeos, whether they are participating in, or watching the events.

Joe explains that “the energy” is what he loves most about being a rodeo announcer:

“Through rhythm of commentary and complementary music, one can really bring the energy of the room up and down in anticipation of the action.  It's a challenge to time it right, as there are so many variables, but to be able to enhance a moment and make it a genuine experience, that's a win.  I like to look at the ‘energy’ like how you would drive a race car. You don't redline the whole way around the track, but if timed right, bursts are the difference in finishing at the front, middle or back.  Some of my colleagues will yell for an entire performance, and have hype for every single component – which is ok – but if you want the crowd to stick with you, they can't carry that energy for 3 hours, and neither can the announcer.” Scully warns that announcers can also lose credibility if they give too much “hype” to a participant whose performance is consistently poor.  “So, [you have] to ride the energy and have the right highs and lows. You may be exhausted, but it's exhilarating.”

The path he took may have been “the long path” however it seems to have served Joe well. He was born in the Greater Toronto Area and raised at a roping facility near Guelph, Ontario. He now lives in Grey County but Scully has always been interested in the rodeo environment:

“I was a rodeo competitor and became a rodeo clown in my teens.  I then went to college for Radio Broadcasting, as it was the closest field to being a rodeo clown. [I] eventually got into Radio Sales which took priority over being a rodeo clown.  Soon, I missed the excitement, and then took up announcing as ... another career, and loved the experience.  From there I entered the International Professional Rodeo Association Contract Acts Showcase and won in 2007. [I] then applied for my Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association accreditation and earned it in 2008.” Joe has since worked as an announcer in 13 different states and 4 different provinces.

For anybody interested in this career path, Joe advises aspiring Rodeo Announcers to “get as many gigs as possible, and try something new every time.  I do a lot of junior or high school rodeos, which is my testing ground for sound effects, timing, etc.” In addition, Joe strongly suggests that you “video every second and watch it back. Have the videographer [record] both the action and you, so you can see what you were looking at, and what you missed.  I like ‘eavesdropping’ to hear what people around the camera are talking about.  Often times, it's simple stuff like, ‘her horse's boots match her saddle pad’, which is something that ‘newbies’ relate to. [This] is stuff to highlight to appeal to ‘newbies’.  No performance is the same, learn something or try something every time.”

You can learn more about Joe at and follow him on Twitter @rodeoannouncer! He follows back and he will also “like” your Facebook page if you like his!