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Soaring soul that raises the church roof; traditional carols with a Celtic lift; a magical glimpse of a Victorian Christmas past and sensational figure skating herald, the star studded spectacular, "Rita MacNeil's Christmas," which originally aired across the CTV Network Sunday, December 3. The one-hour variety special was the headline feature on CTV's holiday programming schedule in 2000. Rita's Guests are Grammy-award winning sensation, Patti LaBelle; platinum-selling tenor John McDermott; Juno award winning fiddler, Natalie MacMaster; Celtic stars The Barra MacNeils and exciting Canadian pairs gold medal figure-skating champions, Salé and Pelletier. "I'll never loose my love for Christmas," says MacNeil. "I love the magic of it, the goodness, the hope and of course, the music. And I wanted this special to convey all those feelings."

And it does. Rita MacNeil's Christmas is a holiday special with a difference: and exciting and eclectic blend of musical styles, which makes it truly unique. Rita MacNeil's Christmas combines the musical talents of record producer Declan O'Doherty, who has worked his traditional Celtic magic on everyone from Cat Stevens to The Rankins; legendary Grammy-award winning music director James "Budd" Ellison (Patti LaBelle, Mariah Carey, Bette Midler) and Juno and Gemini-award winning record producer Peter Mann (Tom Cochrane, Bruce Guthro, Anne Murray).

Highlights include one of Rita's favorite moments, a powerhouse gospel duet with Patti LaBelle from the repertoire of the famous Harlem Abyssian Baptist Gospel Choir. "I've always loved gospel," says Rita, "and it was a joy to sing with Patti's incredible voice and range."

Highlights include one of Rita's favorite moments, a powerhouse gospel duet with Patti LaBelle from the repertoire of the famous Harlem Abyssian Baptist Gospel Choir. "I've always loved gospel," says Rita, "and it was a joy to sing with Patti's incredible voice and range."Also: Patti Labelle's soulful version of "O Holy Night"; Natalie MacMaster and The Barra MacNeils' beautiful Celtic rendition of traditional Christmas carols; John McDermott's heartfelt Christmas tribute to his late mother; two exciting skating performances from Jamie Sale' and David Pelletier and Rita MacNeil's re-creation of a starry-night Victorian Christmas.Along with family, friends, their children, and even their pets, Rita MacNeil's Christmas was taped on location at the historic Parkwood Estate in Oshawa, home of Colonel R.S. "Sam" McLaughlin, founding president of General Motors of Canada; Toronto's famous Cabbagetown area (which was turned into a Victorian village for this special); St. Anne's Church; and The Brampton Centre.

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