RIP Kate McGarrigle
This morning I awoke to the news that Canadian folk and roots musician Kate McGarrigle had passed away Monday evening at age 63 from a bout with cancer. The mother of Rufus and Martha Wainwright through her previous marriage to Loudon Wainwright III, she had recorded ten albums in both French and English along with her sister Anna.
From the Associated Press:
Toronto- Canadian folk singer and songwriter Kate McGarrigle, best known for performing with her sister Anna, has died of cancer. She was 63.
McGarrigle’s brother-in-law, Dane Lanken, said the singer died at her Montreal home Monday night surrounded by her sisters, Jane and Anna, and her children, Rufus and Martha Wainwright, also singers.
He said McGarrigle had been battling cancer since the summer of 2006. He said the cancer started in her small intestine and spread to her liver.
Kate and Anna, known as the McGarrigle Sisters, began their careers performing at Montreal coffeehouses in the 1960s with a group called the Mountain City Four. They got their break in the 1970s, when their songs were covered by numerous artists, including Linda Ronstadt, who used “Heart Like a Wheel” as the title song to one of her albums.
In 1975 they made their first record, “Kate and Anna McGarrigle,” which brought them critical acclaim and additional famous covers by artists including Emmylou Harris, Judy Collins and Billy Bragg.
Their own well-known releases included “The Work Song,” “Cool River” and “Lying Song.”
Kate McGarrigle received the Order of Canada in 1994, one of the country’s highest honors.
McGarrigle was once married to American singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III. Her son, Rufus Wainwright, recently canceled an upcoming tour, citing an illness in the family.
Born in Montreal, the famous singing duo grew up in the Laurentian Mountains village of Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts, Quebec. There, they learned the piano from the village nuns.
From the CBC website:
McGarrigle and her sister were born in Montreal and raised in Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts, Que., and learned to play piano at the urging of their father. They took lessons from nuns at a nearby convent.
They continued to pursue music despite the reservations of their father, performing in clubs while attending university in Montreal in the 1960s – with Kate studying engineering and Anna pursuing painting.
“He would have hated the idea of us becoming professional musicians because he thought professional musicians were bums, people that wandered from town to town,” Anna McGarrigle told The Canadian Press in 2005 after winning a lifetime achievement award from ASCAP, the respected American songwriting association.
They debuted with the album Kate & Anna McGarrigle in 1976. It was named album of the year by Melody Maker and the No. 2 record of the year by the New York Times.
There is so much music and videos to explore on the internet. I chose this clip of her with Rufus and Martha performing in February 2008. May she rest in peace.
1975 – Kate and Anna McGarrigle
1976 – Dancer with Bruised Knees
1978 – Pronto Monto
1981 – Entre Lajeunesse et la sagesse (French Record)
1982 – Love Over and Over
1990 – Heartbeats Accelerating
1996 – Matapédia (winner of 1997 Juno Award for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year – Group)
1998 – The McGarrigle Hour (winner of 1999 Juno Award for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year – Group)
2003 – La vache qui pleure
2005 – The McGarrigle Christmas Hour
1991 – Songs of the Civil War – “Was My Brother in the Battle?”, “Better Times Are Coming”, “Hard Times Come Again No More”
1999 – Live at the World Café – Volume 9 – “DJ Serenade”
2006 – Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man Soundtrack – “Winter Lady” (with Martha Wainwright)
2008 – Northern Songs: Canada’s Best and Brightest – “Entre Lajeunesse et la Sagesse”