Nova Scotia

Rita MacNeil, Jay Smith among honorary ECMA recipients

Two Nova Scotian musicians who died last year will be remembered with honorary awards at next month's East Coast Music Awards gala.

ECMA music week will run in Charlottetown next month

Rita MacNeil and Jay Smith both died in 2013 and will be honoured at the ECMA awards gala. (The Canadian Press, courtesy artist)

Two Nova Scotian musicians who died last year will be remembered with honorary awards at next month's East Coast Music Awards gala.

Acclaimed singer Rita MacNeil will be awarded the Directors' Special Achievement Award posthumously. The Big Pond singer, known as Cape Breton's first lady of song, died in April 2013 at the age of 68 following complications from surgery.

In her lifetime MacNeil was nominated for 28 ECMAs and won 11. In 1987 she earned a Juno award for most promising female artist, at age 42.

Jay Smith, a guitarist best known for playing with Matt Mays, will be remembered with the Musicians' Achievement Award. He died in March 2013 while the band was on tour in Edmonton. Smith also performed with his own band, Rock Ranger.

He won an ECMA in 2009 for a song he co-wrote with Gordie Sampson called We are young and so is the night.

"[The East Coast Music Association] is happy to honour the industry players and musicians who have left a lasting mark on the Atlantic Canadian music scene," said Heather Gibson, chair of the board of directors in a release.

"Their talent, commitment, and impact on the industry continues to inspire."

Other 2014 recipients include The Chaisson Trio, who will be recognized with the Dr. Helen Creighton Lifetime Achievement Award and Grady Poe, who will be honoured with the Industry Builder Award.

Five people will be recognized with the Stompin' Tom Award. They are: Flo Sampson, Alan Dowling, Kellie Walsh, Susan Hunter and the CBC's Bob Mersereau.

The award gala will be held April 5 at the Delta Prince Edward in Charlottetown.