Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kate McGarrigle 1946-2010 RIP

Kate McGarrigle, CM (February 6, 1946 – January 18, 2010) was a Canadian folk music singer-songwriter, who wrote and performed as a duo with her sister Anna McGarrigle.
She was the mother of singers Rufus Wainwright and Martha Wainwright from her marriage to American singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III, which ended in divorce.

Born in Montreal, Quebec to English and French Canadian parents, the three McGarrigle sisters (Jane, Anna, and Kate) grew up in the village of Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts, north of Montreal. Their family was a musical one, often gathering around the piano and singing, allowing Kate and sisters to absorb influences as varied as Gershwin, French Canadian folk songs, Stephen Foster, 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. Anna, two years older than Kate, studied painting at the École des Beaux-Arts (now part of the Université du Québec à Montréal) in Montreal; Kate studied engineering at McGill University. It was at this time that they began writing songs. 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 Entre la jeunesse et la sagesse (commonly known as the French Record) and 2003's La vache qui pleure.
The McGarrigle sisters' life has been chronicled in Dane Lanken's Kate and Anna McGarrigle: Songs and Stories (2007).

Kate and Anna's 1975 self-titled debut album was chosen by Melody Maker as Best Record of the Year. Their albums Matapedia (1997) and The McGarrigle Hour (1999) won Juno Awards. In 1999 Kate and Anna received Women of Originality awards and in 2006 SOCAN Lifetime Achievement awards.

In 1993, she was made a Member of the Order of Canada.

When her son Rufus was featured on Elvis Costello's 2008 TV show Spectacle: Elvis Costello with..., McGarrigle appeared and sang the final song of the show with him.

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. 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."

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.

-- wiki

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