||This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2013)|
|Birth name||Rita MacNeil|
May 28, 1944|
Big Pond, Nova Scotia
|Died||April 16, 2013
Sydney, Nova Scotia
Rita MacNeil, CM, ONS (May 28, 1944 – April 16, 2013) was a Canadian country and folk singer from the community of Big Pond on Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island. Her biggest hit, "Flying On Your Own", was a crossover Top 40 hit in 1987 and was covered by Anne Murray the following year, although she had hits on the country charts throughout her career. In the United Kingdom, MacNeil's song "Working Man" was a No. 11 hit in 1990.
In 1990, she was the bestselling country artist in Canada, outselling even Garth Brooks and Clint Black. She was also the only female singer ever to have three separate albums chart in the same year in Australia.
Personal life 
MacNeil had a daughter, Laura Lewis, and a son, Wade Langham.
A native of Big Pond, Cape Breton County, MacNeil first performed on stage in 1971, and recorded her first album, Born a Woman, in 1975. She performed at folk festivals throughout the 1970s and 1980s, culminating in her major label debut and pop breakthrough in 1987.
MacNeil hosted a CBC Television variety show, Rita and Friends, from 1994 to 1997. The show won a Gemini Award in 1996. She also ran a tea room in her hometown of Big Pond, which has become one of Cape Breton Island's most popular tourist attractions.
She was featured in a Season 4 episode of Trailer Park Boys, wherein she and her band were forced to harvest marijuana at gunpoint.
Research done by historians Steve Hewitt and Christabelle Sethna on documents from the now-defunct Royal Canadian Mounted Police Security Service have revealed accounts of the force having spied on feminists, including MacNeil, during the 1970s.
MacNeil wrote her memoirs On a Personal Note with Anne Simpson in 1998, which was published by Key Porter Books.
Flying On Her Own, a play based on MacNeil's life and featuring many of her songs, premiered at Live Bait Theatre in Sackville, NB in 2000. Written by Canadian playwright Charlie Rhindress, it was subsequently produced by Neptune Theatre in Halifax, NS in 2002 and published by Playwrights Canada Press in 2008.
|1975||Born a Woman|
|1981||Part of the Mystery|
|1983||I'm Not What I Seem|
|1987||Flying On Your Own||27||2× Platinum|
|1988||Reason to Believe||20||2× Platinum|
|Now the Bells Ring||3× Platinum|
|1990||Home I'll Be||22||2× Platinum|
|1992||Thinking of You||19||19||Platinum|
|1993||Once Upon a Christmas||44||Platinum|
|1994||Volume 1: Songs from the Collection||31||Platinum|
|1996||Joyful Sounds: A Seasonal Collection|
|1997||Music of a Thousand Nights|
|1999||A Night at the Orpheum|
|2000||Mining the Soul||Gold|
|2004||The Ultimate Collection|
|2006||Songs My Mother Loved|
|2008||Pocket Full of Dreams|
|2010||The Spirit of Christmas (with Frank Mills)|
|Year||Title||Peak chart positions||Album|
|CAN Country||CAN AC||CAN|
|1986||"Flying On Your Own"||—||—||42||Flying On Your Own|
|1987||"Used to You"||—||18||—|
|"Fast Train to Tokyo"||—||14||—|
|1988||"Leave Her Memory"||32||—||—|
|"Working Man"||*||*||*||Reason to Believe|
|"Walk On Through"||*||*||*|
|"Reason to Believe"||*||*||*|
|1989||"I'll Accept the Rose"||9||—||—||Rita|
|"We'll Reach the Sky Tonight"||—||3||81|
|"When Love Surrounded You and I"||31||—||—|
|"Why Do I Think of You Today"||17||—||—|
|"You Taught Me Well"||—||6||64||Home I'll Be|
|1991||"Watch Love Grow Strong"||9||—||—|
|"Call Me and I'll Be There"||—||14||81|
|1992||"Bring It On Home to Me"||44||8||69||Thinking of You|
|1995||"Steal Me Away"||—||—||—||Porch Songs|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart
* denotes unknown peak positions
International singles 
|1988||"The Music's Going Around Again"||—||Reason to Believe|
|1990||"Working Man" (UK release)||11|
|"Flying On Your Own" (UK release)||—||Flying On Your Own|
|1991||"Leave Her Memory" (UK release)||—|
|"She's Called Nova Scotia"||—|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 341. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- "Rita MacNeil's funeral packs Big Pond church". CBC News, April 22, 2013.
- "Rita MacNeil receives N.S. honour". CBC News, November 1, 2005.
- "RCMP spied on Rita MacNeil, feminists in 1970s". CTV News. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
- "Canadians pay tribute to Rita MacNeil | CTV Atlantic News". Atlantic.ctvnews.ca. 2005-02-20. Retrieved 2013-04-18.
- "Rita MacNeil dies at 68 after surgery; son says she had been planning summer concerts". Toronto Star, April 17, 2013.
Further reading