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Canada's Little Sparrow Dies at age 68!!

Cape Breton singer Rita MacNeil dies at 68

Acclaimed Cape Breton singer Rita MacNeil has died at age 68.

A notice on her website states MacNeil died on April 16 following complications from surgery.

Born in Big Pond on Cape Breton Island, MacNeil was one of eight children.

She moved to Toronto at age 17, where she wrote her first song and began singing in folk clubs. MacNeil later moved to Ottawa where she recorded three albums, but eventually returned to Big Pond, where she formed a trio.

MacNeil was famously shy, but said her parents helped her overcome that trait by constantly reminding her to believe in herself.

"You can be shy," she said. "You can work through all kinds of struggle. But somewhere deep down, you have to have belief or nothing's going to happen."

Cape Breton's first lady of song made her mark during a six-week run at Expo ’86 in Vancouver. In 1987 she earned a Juno award as most promising female artist, at age 42.

MacNeil recorded 24 albums and sold millions over the course of her career.

She hosted a CBC-TV variety program, Rita and Friends, which ran from 1994 to 1997 and drew regular audiences of one million viewers.

MacNeil was a member of the Order of Canada and the recipient of five honorary doctorates.

In 1986 she opened Rita’s Tea Room in her hometown of Big Pond, where she also gave performances.

Through it all, she kept a positive outlook.

MacNeil inspired a generation of Cape Breton songwriters and performers. She encouraged young singers, even if she wasn't a fan of their voices.

"Who are we to say 'if you have a dream, don't waste your time,'" MacNeil said. "There are different degrees of the dream. Maybe they'll get to sing in a church or another place that keeps them very happy."

by Anonymousreply 3105/04/2013


by Anonymousreply 104/17/2013


by Anonymousreply 204/17/2013

A lovely woman, RIP

by Anonymousreply 304/17/2013

R.I.P. Rita

by Anonymousreply 404/17/2013

I like to think that she would have been a belieber. New single dropping next week, yo!

by Anonymousreply 504/17/2013

Rita proved that you don't have to look like a porn star or be a teenager to have a successful career in the music industry.

by Anonymousreply 604/17/2013

In Canada R6

She never made it internationally.

by Anonymousreply 704/17/2013

Strangely, she was quite popular in Japan, and Australia. And the UK, but not the US. Like an obese Kylie Minogue.

by Anonymousreply 804/17/2013

I never understood her appeal (and I'm Canadian), but my Facebook feed is full of mourning gays today. To each their own diva, I guess.

by Anonymousreply 904/17/2013

It's Canada dear, we don't give a shit.

by Anonymousreply 1004/17/2013

Shocking that a morbidly obese person would die so young! She truly was the people's princess! I am always amazed to know that there are celebrities in Canada who are completely unknown just steps south of the border. She had a very "church special" quality to her songs, no?

by Anonymousreply 1104/17/2013

If she were in the USA, she would be an anti-gay religious wacko. She is a testament to the tolerance of Canada, eastern Canada at least.

Give me a women with a similar social upbringing and small town demographic from the USA and yeah, dangerous and bigoted.

by Anonymousreply 1204/17/2013

She appeared on a comedy show where she was in a field of marijuana plants

by Anonymousreply 1304/17/2013


by Anonymousreply 1404/17/2013

My heart goes out to all Bretonians.

by Anonymousreply 1504/17/2013

[quote] Strangely, she was quite popular in Japan, and Australia. And the UK

How do you know?

She spent a fortune producing an infomercial featuring her CD and targeted at TV stations in US red states.

Fashioning herself as Canada's country music star.

by Anonymousreply 1604/17/2013

I recall that infomercial. She had a nice voice that didn't ever need Autotune.

by Anonymousreply 1704/17/2013

She was actually a lesbian, quietly living with her partner in Big Pond, Nova Scotia. The old Frank Magazine outed her on several occasions.

My mother loved her, my Dad hated her. She was sweet and treacly but she was sincere in what she did. She had a show on CBC showcasing musical guests, often alternative Rock Bands. It was called Rita and Friends and it was funny to hear her in her schoolmarm, Edie McLurg-like chirp 'and now my good friends, the Festering Puss-Filled Sores, will perform a lovely song called "Dead Whore"

by Anonymousreply 1804/17/2013

Her Christmas album is a staple at my family's house during the holidays. She has a very nice voice. Did she have a cleft palette or something? her face looks wack!

by Anonymousreply 1904/17/2013

I think she had a harelip.

by Anonymousreply 2004/17/2013

She had a cleft lip.

She was a national treasure. She was painfully shy and had obvious physical flaws for which she was regularly mocked. But she pushed on with her music and made a name and a career for herself. She spent her early years in Toronto as a feminist folksinger, attending demonstrations and rallies and pushing for women's rights. Encouraging other women to become self-empowered. The RCMP kept a file on her for some reason.

I didn't care for her music. Too sappy and folky. But I loved her and what she stood for. A very sweet, kind lady. Canada has lost an icon.

by Anonymousreply 2104/17/2013

I hope her rap album still gets released later this month.

by Anonymousreply 2204/17/2013

Nice voice, why didn't she come to the US?

by Anonymousreply 2304/17/2013

We will honor her at this year's Fest. What would be be appropriate, fellow womyn-folk?

by Anonymousreply 2404/17/2013

She was quite fat

by Anonymousreply 2504/20/2013

Still dead?

by Anonymousreply 2604/30/2013

Decidedly so.

by Anonymousreply 2704/30/2013

MacNeil showed that with genuine talent you don't need back up dancers, autotune, six-pack abs, public scandals, etc. ... just a beautiful voice and a kind spirit. RIP

by Anonymousreply 2804/30/2013

Instead of back up dancers, she had back up miners.

Those Maritimers really know how to ENTERTAIN!

by Anonymousreply 2904/30/2013

RIP The singing fridge

by Anonymousreply 3005/02/2013

She makes me hungry

by Anonymousreply 3105/04/2013
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