Canadian country star Rita Macneil has died at the age of 68.
The singer passed away on Tuesday (16Apr13) after suffering complications following surgery. No more details about her death were available as Wenn went to press.
A statement posted on her website on Wednesday (17Apr13) reads, "It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Cape Breton's (Canada's Cape Breton Island) first lady of song, Rita MACNeil. Rita died last evening (sic) from complications following surgery, at the age of 68."
Fellow Canadian country singer Tommy Hunter has paid tribute to MACNeil, saying, "Rita could convey... warmth and sincerity through her songs... I have lost a good friend."
MACNeil recorded her first album, Born a Woman, in 1975, but didn't achieve chart success until the 1980s and won her first Juno Award, for Most Promising Female Vocalist, in 1987.
She recorded 24 albums during her career and her last release, Saving Grace, hit shelves late last year (12).
MACNeil also hosted a Canadian Tv variety show called Rita and Friends in the mid-1990s and she was made a Member of the Order of Canada.
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.