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Kate McGarrigle

Kate McGarrigle
McGarrigle at the 2008
Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame gala
Background information
Born (1946-02-06)February 6, 1946
Montreal,[1] Quebec, Canada
Died January 18, 2010(2010-01-18) (aged 63)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Genres Folk
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter
Instruments Accordion, guitar, piano, banjo, vocals
Years active 1970–2009
Associated acts Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Anna McGarrigle, Loudon Wainwright III, Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright, Wade Hemsworth, Mountain City Four, Joel Zifkin

Kate McGarrigle, CM (February 6, 1946[2] – January 18, 2010)[3] was a Canadian folk music singer-songwriter, who wrote and performed as a duo with her sister Anna McGarrigle.[4][5]

She is the mother of singers Rufus Wainwright and Martha Wainwright from her marriage to American singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III, which ended in divorce.[4][6]


  • Background 1
  • Awards 2
  • Discography 3
  • Death 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Born in Gershwin, French Canadian folk songs, Stephen Foster, and composer-singers such as Wade Hemsworth, and Edith Piaf. The sisters were formally introduced to music by taking piano lessons from the village nuns.

In the 1960s Kate and Anna established themselves in Montreal's burgeoning folk scene while they attended school. From 1963 to 1967, they teamed up with Jack Nissenson and Peter Weldon to form the folk group, the Mountain City Four.

Anna, who is 14 months[7] older than Kate, studied painting at the École des Beaux-Arts de Montréal (now part of the Université du Québec à Montréal) in Montreal; Kate studied engineering at McGill University.[8] It was at this time that they began writing songs.[9] Although she sang mostly in English, according to Juan Rodriguez, she and Anna "put Québécois folk music...on the global music map in 1980 [sic] with Complainte pour Ste. Cathérine, Entre la jeunesse et la sagesse (commonly known as the French Record) and 2003's La vache qui pleure.[10]

The McGarrigle sisters' life has been chronicled in Dane Lanken's "Kate and Anna McGarrigle: Songs and Stories."

Place Kate-McGarrigle was inaugurated on August 7, 2013 in Montreal's Outremont borough. It contains a sculpture by Robert Wilson in the form of a double chair. McGarrigle - a Montreal native - lived nearby before her death.[11]


Kate and Anna's 1975 self-titled debut album was chosen by Melody Maker as Best Record of the Year.[9] Their albums Matapedia (1996) and The McGarrigle Hour (1998) won Juno Awards. In 1999 Kate and Anna received Women of Originality awards and in 2006 SOCAN Lifetime Achievement awards.[12] In 1993 she was made a Member of the Order of Canada.[2]


  1. Kate and Anna McGarrigle (1975)
  2. Dancer with Bruised Knees (1977)
  3. Pronto Monto (1978)
  4. Entre Lajeunesse et la sagesse (1980)
  5. Love Over and Over (1982)
  6. Heartbeats Accelerating (1990)
  7. Matapédia (1996)
  8. The McGarrigle Hour (1998)
  9. La vache qui pleure (2003)
  10. The McGarrigle Christmas Hour (2005)
  11. Odditties (2010)


McGarrigle was diagnosed with cancer in 2006 and established the Kate McGarrigle Fund at the McGill University Health Centre, which she set up in 2008 to raise awareness of sarcoma, a rare cancer that affects connective tissue such as bone, muscle, nerves and cartilage.

She died of clear-cell sarcoma on January 18, 2010, aged 63 at her home in Montreal.[1] Her sister Anna wrote on their website:

"Sadly our sweet Kate had to leave us last night. She departed in a haze of song and love surrounded by family and good friends. She is irreplaceable and we are broken-hearted. Til we meet again dear sister."[13]

She made her last public appearance, with Rufus and Martha Wainwright, at the Royal Albert Hall in London, just six weeks before her death. The show raised $55,000 for the Kate McGarrigle Fund.

On June 12, 2010, the Richard Thompson.[14] The concert included performances by her daughter Martha Wainwright, son Rufus Wainwright, sister Anna McGarrigle, Neil Tennant, Nick Cave, Emmylou Harris, Richard and Linda Thompson,[15] and longtime friends and musical collaborators Chaim Tannenbaum and Joel Zifkin. Her close friend Emmylou Harris wrote the song "Darlin' Kate" in her memory, which appears on her album Hard Bargain.

On May 12 and 13, 2011, at New York City's Town Hall, a "Celebration of Kate McGarrigle" was held. Among the participating artists honoring her at these concerts were Martha Wainwright, Rufus Wainwright, Anna McGarrigle, Emmylou Harris, Lisa Hannigan, Norah Jones, Antony Hegarty, Jimmy Fallon, Krystle Warren, Justin Vivian Bond, Teddy Thompson, Jenni Muldaur writer Michael Ondaatje and longtime friends and McGarrigle sidemen Chaim Tannenbaum and Joel Zifkin.[16] The celebration was curated by Joe Boyd and filmed by Lian Lunson. Sing Me the Songs That Say I Love You: A Concert for Kate McGarrigle was released in June 2013; Sing Me the Songs: Celebrating the Works of Kate McGarrigle served as the film's soundtrack.


  1. ^ a b c "Obituary for Kate McGarrigle". January 19, 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  2. ^ a b "Order of Canada award". April 30, 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  3. ^ Obituary at CBC News, January 19, 2010
  4. ^ a b Tucker, Ken (April 19, 1998). "Rufus, Son of Loudon, and His Take on Love – Biography". Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  5. ^ Russell, Tony (January 19, 2010). "Kate McGarrigle obituary". The Guardian (London, England). Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  6. ^ "Relative Values: Kate McGarrigle and Rufus Wainwright". The Sunday Times (London, United Kingdom). October 17, 2004. Retrieved January 24, 2010. 
  7. ^ Anna was born Anna Ruth on December 4, 1944. Source: (family site of the McGarrigles).
  8. ^ Robert Everett-Green. "Goodbye sweet harmony". The Globe and Mail, January 19, 2010.
  9. ^ a b Kate and Anna McGarrigle Biography on
  10. ^ Rodriguez, Juan, 2010, "She Leaves a Musical and Familial Legacy," National Post January 20, 2010, p. B3
  11. ^
  12. ^ Betty Nygaard King. "McGarrigle, Kate and Anna". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  13. ^ "Kate & Anna McGarrigle". Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  14. ^ Williams, Holly (June 16, 2010). "A Celebration of Kate McGarrigle, Royal Festival Hall". The Independent (London). 
  15. ^ Denselow, Robin (June 14, 2010). "A Celebration of Kate McGarrigle". The Guardian (London). 
  16. ^ Pareles, Jon (May 15, 2011). "Her Folksy Parlor, Crowded With Family and Friends". New York Times (New York City). 

External links

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