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Kate McGarrigle

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

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][6][7][8]

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.[9][4]



Born in Montreal, Quebec[1] to English and French Canadian parents, the three McGarrigle sisters (Jane, Anna, and Kate, the youngest) grew up in the village of Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts, north of Montreal. Their family was a musical one on both sides, often gathering around the piano and singing, allowing Kate and her sisters to absorb influences as varied as 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. Anna, 14 months[10] 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.[11] It was at this time that they began writing songs.[12] 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.[13]

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.[12] 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.[14] 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


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.[15]


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."[16]

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.


  1. ^ a b c "Obituary for Kate McGarrigle". 2010-01-19. Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  2. ^ a b "Order of Canada award". 2009-04-30. 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. ^ "Kate McGarrigle obituary". The Guardian. London, England. January 19, 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  6. ^ Windolf, Jim. "Kate McGarrigle: A Tribute: Jim Windolf". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  7. ^ "Kate McGarrigle". The Telegraph. London, England. 2010-01-20. Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  8. ^ Clarkson, Adrienne (November 5, 2004). "Speech on the Occasion of the Presentation of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards". Retrieved January 24, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Relative Values: Kate McGarrigle and Rufus Wainwright". The Sunday Times (London, United Kingdom). October 17, 2004. Retrieved January 24, 2010. 
  10. ^ Anna was born Anna Ruth on December 4, 1944. Source: (family site of the McGarrigles).
  11. ^ Robert Everett-Green. "Goodbye sweet harmony". The Globe and Mail, January 19, 2010.
  12. ^ a b Kate and Anna McGarrigle Biography on
  13. ^ Rodriguez, Juan, 2010, "She Leaves a Musical and Familial Legacy," National Post January 20, 2010, p. B3
  14. ^ Betty Nygaard King. "McGarrigle, Kate and Anna". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2010-01-24. 
  15. ^ "Spectacle: Elvis Costello with..." Rufus Wainwright (2009) at the Internet Movie Database
  16. ^ "Kate & Anna McGarrigle". Retrieved 2010-01-24. 

External links


Simple English

Kate McGarrigle ( February 6, 1946, in Montreal, Canada - January 18, 2010) was a Canadian singer-songwriter famous for her emotional songs written in the folk style.[1] With her sister Anna McGarrigle, she had success in the 1970's where they were well known for their harmony singing.[1] Some of the McGarrigles songs became hits for singers such as Linda Ronstadt and Maria Muldaur.[1] Kate married singer Loudon Wainwright III and had two children, singers Martha Wainwright and Rufus Wainwright.[1]



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