A Canadian music icon is being recognized for her life’s work.

On Friday, it was announced that the late Rita MacNeil will be inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame during the 2021 East Coast Music Awards on May 6.

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MacNeil, who passed away in 2013, left an incredible legacy in Canadian music, often writing songs about Nova Scotia, and reaching an audience across the country and around the world.

“Through her lyrics and songwriting, Rita allowed us into her heart and soul,” said Vanessa Thomas, executive director, Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. “The love between songwriter and audience was mutual. Rita didn’t sing to people, she sang for people; and her audiences, in return, gave her strength to overcome her shyness and stage anxiety. There are few artists who have such an intimate and authentic connection with their fans, and that bond lives on through her songs.”

“We’re thrilled to partner with the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame to honour the tremendous legacy of Rita MacNeil,” added ECMA CEO Andy McLean. “As we celebrate the best of today’s East Coast artists, it’s also important to look back and recognize the impact that songwriters like Rita had on our region and its history. She was a phenomenal talent who represented the very best of our East Coast music community, and we’re very proud to be a part of her induction into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.”

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While MacNeil began recording music in the 1970s, it was her 1986 album Flying On Your Own that truly put her on the map, going double-platinum and winning her a Juno Award the next year.

In 1990, MacNeil became Canada’s top-selling country singer-songwriter, with her single “We’ll Reach the Sky Tonight” earning a SOCAN Country Award.

During the East Coast Music Awards, former bandmates and friends will perform a musical tribute to MacNeil’s life and talent.

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