Rita MacNeil Dies

Rita MacNeil, 68, Canadian folk and gospel singer, died following complications from surgery April 16.

MacNeil was awarded Canada’s East Coast Music Association lifetime achievement award in 2005, and won a Juno in 1987 for most promising female artist.

She hosted a television variety show, “Rita & Friends,” which ran on CBC-TV from 1994 to 1997. Known for being extraordinarily shy, MacNeil took a backseat to her extraordinary voice, which her former manager, Brookes Diamond, heard before seeing her.

Photo: The Canadian Press, Jacques Boissinot/AP
Receiving a lifetime achievement award at the East Coast Music Awards in Sydney, Canada.

“It was quite a picture; [my brother and I] were in a field at a folk festival,” Diamond told CBC News. “This voice came through the rain, mist, and we both stopped. We were riding on a dirt bike and the two of us were in tears.”