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Rita MacNeil Remembered By CBC Friends


Rita MacNeil died Tuesday evening, CBC News reports, following complications from surgery.

Whether you were introduced to the 68-year-old singer-songwriter from Big Pond, N.S. through her long-running CBC show Rita & Friends, songs such as "Working Man" or "Flying On Your Own" or maybe just a certain episode of the Trailer Park Boys, every Canadian knows Rita MacNeil. She's a Member of the Order of Canada, a Juno winner, Cape Breton's "first lady of song."

Yet MacNeil, who began performing in Toronto folk clubs at 17, often talked of her extremely shy nature.

In her last interview with CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos - conducted before her December 2012 holiday tour of Canada - MacNeil told Strombo about what helped her overcome her nerves.

"I still have stage fright, but certainly not to the degree I used to," she said. "And that's because the people in this country have given me such a career, and loved me back so much that they make the challenges easier."

Watch the interview:

Following news of MacNeil's passing, the love is still there.

Canadians including her famous fans and friends at the CBC shared their remembrances on Twitter:

Stephen Harper

Jeannie Lee

Alan Doyle

Jonathan Torrens

George Stroumboulopoulos


Jian Ghomeshi

Gerry Dee

Joel Plaskett

Tom Power

RIP Rita MacNeil. One of the brightest stars ever to shine from the East Coast.

-- Tom Power (@tompowercbc) April 17, 2013 >

Grant Lawrence

Justin Trudeau

Others have paid tribute elsewhere. Anne Murray, a fellow Canadian music legend with Nova Scotia roots, wrote CBC: "I am deeply saddened by the loss of a dear sweet woman and a gifted singer-songwriter who represented women and her beloved Nova Scotia so eloquently in song."

For further coverage of Rita MacNeil, CBC Nova Scotia has prepared a special report, "Remembering Rita," at that compiles video highlights from MacNeil's life, and tributes to the star.

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