I’m Not What I Seem

The many stories of Rita MacNeil's life

by Charlie Rhindress

The biography of a woman who was so much more than she seemed

Rita MacNeil has long been recognized as one of the East Coast's great singer-songwriters. As a young girl with the dream of becoming a singer, she overcame a series of seemingly insurmountable obstacles and achieved success by believing in herself and refusing to give up. A trailblazer, Rita played an integral role in the women's movement in Canada and forged a path that was unique to her, paving the way for future generations of east coast musicians.

Charlie Rhindress first came to know Rita as he collaborated with her on his play Flying on Her Own, incorporating more than twenty of her songs into a script that told the story of her life. For this new biography, Rhindress did extensive research and interviewed many of the people who worked with her and knew her best. The story of a strong, sensitive, complex woman emerged and the result is a powerful and moving portrait of a unique woman and important artist of her times.

About the Author

Charlie Rhindress

CHARLIE RHINDRESS is an actor, writer and director who has worked in theatre for thirty years. He was born and raised in Amherst, Nova Scotia, and educated at Mount Allison University. As a co-founder and former Artistic Director of Live Bait Theatre in Sackville, New Brunswick, he was involved in more than eighty productions for the company during a twenty year period. His focus has been primarily on the development and support of Atlantic Canadian theatre, receiving a lifetime membership in Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre for his work. He has acted and directed at theatres across the country and appeared in a number of films and television programs. His fifteen full-length plays have been produced at theatres throughout Canada including Neptune Theatre, Theatre Orangeville and Theatre NorthWest. His two published scripts are The Maritime Way of Life, which was nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award as Best New Play, and Flying on Her Own.

This is his first book. He lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and is a very proud father of four.


"I'm Not What I Seem: The Many Stories of Rita MacNeil's Life by Charlie Rhindress takes these facts and many more about MacNeil's life and fleshes out the stories beneath them. Rhindress takes a chronological approach, from MacNeil's birth (she arrived with a badly cleft palate, and her father prayed for her death), through her struggle to find her place on the musical stage, to the ebb and flow of her career, to her death. Rhindress relies on his own interviews and conversations with MacNeil and those who knew her, along with archival material..."
Stephanie Domet, Atlantic Books Today
"His book takes MacNeil from her troubled youth through the glorious peaks of her career to her sad later years of financial difficulty"
Elissa Barnard, Localxpress
Like her songs, her story is not solely her own, it's the story of countless Maritimers who have dealt with financial hard times, leaving home, returning home, finding your place in the world and proving your worth.
Chronicle Herald

Subjects (BISAC)


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