04/20/2013 12:33 EDT | Updated 06/20/2013 05:12 EDT

Rita MacNeil Honoured In Private Cape Breton Ceremony

Family and friends are gathering in Cape Breton today for a private ceremony to remember Rita MacNeil.

MacNeil, one of the island's most acclaimed performers, will be honoured first in Sydney at the T.W. Curry Parkview Chapel.

The funeral for the 68-year-old singer — who died Tuesday evening following complications from surgery after a recurring infection — will be held on Monday at St. Mary's Parish in Big Pond.

MacNeil, who was one of eight children, moved to Toronto at age 17, wrote her first song and began singing in folk clubs. She later moved to Ottawa, where she recorded three albums, but eventually returned to Big Pond, where she formed a trio.

She gradually became a beloved fixture in Canadian culture, with her greatest success coming after she was in her 40s. Her powerful voice explored genres from country to folk to gospel.

MacNeil, who was also a member of the Order of Canada and the recipient of five honorary doctorates, has been praised by many for her wisdom and humility.