Author of Rita MacNeil biography shut out of symphony performance
The author of a new book on Rita MacNeil was hoping to be a part of Symphony Nova Scotia’s tribute to her, but his talk on the Cape Breton songstress and her music has been cancelled.
Charlie Rhindress, who worked with the Cape Breton singer before she died in 2013, is the author of ‘I'm Not What I Seem: The many stories of Rita MacNeil's life.’ He was scheduled to speak at the concert in Halifax Saturday and copies of his books had been ordered for sale.
Then Symphony Nova Scotia cancelled, citing Rita's family was opposed to it and the symphony had no desire to get involved in any disagreement between the two.
“I was unaware that there was any kind of disagreement,” said Rhindress. “It just took me a little by surprise.”
Rita MacNeil's son, Wade Langham, says there isn’t a dispute and Charlie Rhindress is a great guy. He declined an on camera interview with CTV News, but points out his mother wrote her own book and says he has few opportunities to promote her message and protect her estate.
“I think if Wade had actually read the book, I think he'd see that I actually encourage people to go back to her music,” said Rhindress.
Langham admits he has not read the book.
“Our experience with books is if you read a book about something and you find it interesting you're very likely to be interested in another book on the same subject,” said publisher Jim Lorimer.
Symphony Nova Scotia declined an interview request, but in a statement CEO Christopher Wilkinson says Rita MacNeil's autobiography will be on sale at the concert instead.
“Our choice of merchandise does not reflect any bias against certain products,” said Wilkinson in the statement. “But rather reflects our respect for the wishes of Rita's family. We're looking forward to celebrating Rita's rich life and legacy this weekend.”
Jim Lorimer says the family's wishes are irrelevant. He wants one thing from Symphony Nova Scotia.
“Change their minds. It's so obvious that it's a good thing,” said Lormier.
Rhindress says he has only the utmost respect for Rita MacNeil and his only wish is to share more of her story and connect with her fans.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kayla Hounsell.