Dezi 'Fiddle on Fire' Donnelly is a Manchester based Fiddle player. One of the founder members of the legendary Celtic Rock Band 'Toss the Feathers'. Often seen collaborating with the likes of Sharon Shannon and BBC instrumentalist of the Year Mike McGoldrick.
" As an interpreter of traditional music, Dezi Donnelly stands apart from others of his generation. Despite his young age his playing bears all the hallmarks of someone who has grown naturally with the music." - Paddy Glackin - from the liner notes of Familiar Footsteps
It is a well known cliche, to describe a fiddle player as "a devil fiddler" but in Dezi Donnelly's case this is more of an understatement! The sibling of a Manchester fiddler dynasty is both All Britain and All Ireland Champion, a title truely deserved for his brilliant jigs and reels.
Having played the fiddle since the age of 7, Dezi was North West and All Britain fiddle champion by the age of 9. Amazingly, by the age of 15, he had won the All Ireland championship an astounding 5 times! He also won the 'Fiddler of London' twice a competition held in the memory of Dezi's uncle Des Donnelly who was tragically killed in a building site accident in June 1973,four days before Dezi was born.
Dezi joined legendary Manchester-Irish band, Toss The Feathers, whilst still in his teens. Between 1988-91 and 1994-95 he appeared on the brilliant "Columbus Eclipse" and "Awakenings" albums.
It was during this period (in 1989 to be precise) that Dezi recorded some tracks with Mancunian flutist Michael McGoldrick. Mike's flute and Dezi's fiddle gently spar on most of the tracks, however each take the lead when required and the arrangements allow them to swap leads within sets to great effect. The tracks were later released on the album, "Champions Of The North", and Dezi also featured on Mike's amazing "Fused" album.He also played on McGoldricks 'Wired' and the latest release 'Aurora'.
On the critically-acclaimed 1995 album, "Welcome", Dezi duos with guitarist Skirm and they compliment each others' playing superbly. Described as a unique musical experience, the album is a masterpiece of improvised brilliance and received rave reviews.
Dezi went one better in 1999, scooping the "All Ireland Young Traditional Musician Of The Year". The award pocketed him IR£5000 and a recording contract.
The "All Ireland" award created a very productive period for Dezi. He was invited to join Irish traditionalists, Stockton's Wing in May '99 and by July he had released his debut solo album. "Familiar Footsteps".
"Familiar Footsteps" is already recognised as one of the greatest traditional fiddle albums of all time and has won rave reviews.
In 2009 Dezi was asked to appear on the BBC's 'Transatlantic Sessions' and performed alongside Jerry Douglas,Ali Bain,Phil Cunningham,Donal Lunny and James Taylor.