On May 6, 2013, the community of Cape Breton and beyond gathered at Centre 200 for an evening of entertainment to pay tribute to the late Rita MacNeil. Organized by Joella Foulds and Max MacDonald, Home I’ll Be: Remembering Rita featured a star-studded lineup of performers including Matt Minglewood, Ashley MacIsaac, The Men of the Deeps, The Barra MacNeils and Rita’s band, among many others. The concert paid fitting tribute to Rita with proceeds going toward a scholarship in her name for the University’s new Bachelor of Arts Community Studies (BACS) four year music major.
“Rita was a dear friend to many and is in the hearts of all Cape Bretoners and in fact those across the country,” says Foulds, whose connection to MacNeil goes back to the late 1970s when they started performing together. “We knew that we had to acknowledge all that Rita did for the community and this showcase was an exceptional and overwhelming example of just how powerful her presence was. Making sure the proceeds from the evening would help students pursuing music studies would make Rita smile.”
During a dinner held May 15, Foulds was on hand to present a cheque for $50,000 to Cape Breton University to establish the Rita MacNeil Music Award allowing Rita’s legacy to live on in local CBU students following their dreams of studying music. The $50,000 presented, along with donations received since the event, bring the total in the Rita MacNeil Music Fund to almost $100,000.
“This is a true testament to the generosity of the Cape Breton community,” says Dr. David Wheeler, CBU President and Vice Chancellor. “The Rita MacNeil Tribute was one of the first events I attended as President and I can tell you that it certainly was a powerful evening that opened my eyes to what I had to look forward to. A big thank you to Joella, Max and all those who made this happen for our students.”
Cape Breton University’s Bachelor of Arts Community Studies (BACS) Music Major is like no other music program in Canada. The program focuses on traditional and tradition-based popular music, with particular emphasis on local musical traditions (especially Celtic and Acadian music) and is designed for students who have a passion for music who want to work in the global music industry. For more information, visit cbu.ca.