Rita was a longtime supporter of Celtic Colours and performed at the Festival many times over the past 16 years. A legendary ambassdor of Cape Breton culture, she brought a touch of class and a great deal of humility and warmth to our stages.
In 2008 Celtic Colours presented a tribute show to Rita to a sold out house at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion. The show which remains one of our quickest selling events in the Festival’s history.
Musical friends and colleagues of Rita MacNeil are coming together for a celebration of her life on Monday, May 6th at Center 200 in Sydney. It is an opportunity for the entire community of her friends and fans to remember her, to celebrate her impact, and to say goodbye. The evening will be called “Home I’ll Be: Remembering Rita”. It will start at 7:30 PM. A nominal ticket price of $10 will allow everyone to be there and all proceeds will go toward a scholarship in her name for the newly-announced Music degree program (BACS in Music) at Cape Breton University.
The event organizers, Joella Foulds and Max MacDonald are long-time friends of Rita. “This is a fitting legacy for Rita who was such a strong supporter of young people and of our musical traditions in Cape Breton,” says Foulds. “Everyone is jumping on board to help. We’re delighted by the outpouring of support from musicians, local businesses, organizations and volunteers. Rita was our Queen of Cape Breton and our very best ambassador. Everyone adored her. This is literally a labour of love.”
The community has stepped up to provide the venue, accommodations for artists who are coming from away, advertising and various services. All of the artists are performing with no fees and volunteers are coming forth offering their services.
When asked about the lineup for the evening Joella and Max replied, “in Rita’s own words, that’s Part of the Mystery”.
Tickets go on sale on Monday, April 29th. They will be available at Centre 200 in Sydney, the Savoy Theatre in Glace Bay, the Emera Centre in North Sydney, and the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre.
In the meantime, watch an interview our friends at liveonlinecanada.ca did with Rita at the Savoy Theatre during Celtic Colours 2012.