Canadian singer Rita MacNeil dead at 68

April 17, 2013 at 11:58 AM

SYDNEY, Nova Scotia, April 17 (UPI) -- Canadian singer Rita MacNeil has died from complications following surgery in Sydney, Nova Scotia, her website said Wednesday. She was 68.

The posting did not say what type of operation the Cape Breton native had undergone before her death Tuesday.

"A gentle soul with a heart of gold and the voice of an angel, Rita's music spoke of her love of home and family, the courage to rise above life's challenges and the hardworking men and women that tie this country together," her website said.

Among her hits were "Working Man," "Flying on Your Own," "Reason to Believe," "I'll Accept the Rose Tonight" and "Home I'll Be."

MacNeil recorded 24 albums, which sold millions of copies. She won three Juno Awards, as well as numerous East Coast Music Awards, Country Music Awards, and a Gemini for her CBC variety show "Rita & Friends," which ran from 1994 to 1997.

She was a Member of the Order of Canada, was awarded the Order of Nova Scotia and earned five honorary doctorates. In 1986, she opened up Rita's Tea Room in her hometown of Big Pond. She wrote about her early life as one of eight children and chronicled highlights of her career in her 1998 autobiography "On a Personal Note."

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