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Rita MacNeil speaks about her transformation in 1979

The Story


One of Canada's best-loved performers, MacNeil released her first album, Born a Woman, in 1975 and played most of the major folks festivals across the country that year. This interview was conducted a few years later, just after she had returned to live in her hometown, Big Pond on Cape Breton Island.

Medium: Television
Program: Take 30
Broadcast Date: Nov. 22, 1979
Interviewer: Hana Gartner
Duration: 16:50
This clip has been edited for copyright reasons.
"Need For Restoration" composed by Rita MacNeil, Skinners Pond Music

Did You know?


• The demure singer/songwriter in this clip is Rita MacNeil. One of Canada's best-loved performers, MacNeil released her first album, Born a Woman, in 1975 and played most of the major folks festivals across the country that year. This interview was conducted a few years later, just after she had returned to live in her hometown, Big Pond on Cape Breton Island.

• MacNeil really broke into the Canadian mainstream market in 1987 with her fourth record, Flying on Your Own. She won a Juno Award that year for most promising female vocalist, and followed it up in 1990 with female vocalist of the year and in 1991 with best female country vocalist. In 1990, she sold more than 100,000 records in Canada, out-selling megastar country crooner Garth Brooks.

• For three seasons between 1994 and 1997, MacNeil hosted her own top-rated variety show on CBC Television called Rita and Friends. The program featured many of the best contemporary music acts in the country, from the East Coast sounds of The Rankin Family and Great Big Sea to indie rockers Sloan and Crash Test Dummies.
• MacNeil's most recent album, Blue Roses, was released in 2004.

• Rita MacNeil has won three Junos: Most Promising Female Vocalist of the Year (1987), Female Vocalist of the Year (1990), and Country Female Vocalist of the Year (1991).


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