Doctor of Letters
Ms. MacNeil, whose home is in Big Pond, Cape Breton, will receive an Honorary Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.). The internationally renowned singer won the 1987 Juno Award as most promising Female Vocalist and has received three nominations for the 1988 Juno Awards. In addition to a nomination as Female Vocalist of the Year, her album Reason to Believe brought her nominations for Composer of the Year and Best Album.
Rita MacNeil wrote her first song in 1971 while living in Toronto. She released her first album soon after, but still had to take any job she could find to support herself and her two children. She came home to Big Pond in 1978, and continued to write, sing and record. She began to tour Canada and her reputation slowly grew.
By December 1986, she had a hit album, Flying on Your Own. She represented Canada at Expo ’85 in Japan and Expo ’88 in Australia, as well as playing at Expo ’86 in Vancouver, becoming Nova Scotia’s unofficial ambassador in Canada and abroad. She has made sold out appearances across Canada, including Halifax’s Metro Centre. She has released two more albums, Reason to Believe, and a Christmas Special, Now the Bells Ring. All three of her most recent albums have surpassed platinum status. She performed to enthusiastic audiences in Japan last year and played her first concert in the United States in April.