The Canadian folk artist Kate McGarrigle, best known for her work with her sister Anna McGarrigle, died last night (Jan 18th) following a battle with a rare form of cancer. She was 63. Her musical career (songwriter/vocals/piano/guitar) began with sister Anna in the mid seventies. They recorded ten albums together. Additionally, she was also known to many as the mother of musicians Martha Wainwright and Rufus Wainwright from her marriage to musician Loudon Wainwright III. In fact, when reports that the artist was critically ill surfaced over the weekend, son Rufus reportedly canceled his tour of Australia and New Zealand, scheduled to begin in two weeks, to be by his mother's side.
The McGarrigle Sisters debuted in 1976 with the critically acclaimed album Kate & Anna McGarrigle, which was even named "album of the year" by UK music magazine Melody Maker. Over the years tracks from the sisters' repertoire, which included songs such as "Heart Like a Wheel," "Goin' Back to Harlan," "Heartbeats Accelerating," "Talk to Me of Mendocino," and "On My Way to Town," have been covered by many artists, including Billy Bragg, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmylou Harris. Below is a video of the McGarrigle Sisters performing their beautiful song "Heart Like A Wheel" in 1990. And below that is an amateur video of Kate, Martha, and Rufus Wainwright all together onstage two years ago at Radio City Music Hall in NYC performing "Talk to Me of Mendocino." Rest in peace, Kate McGarrigle!
Kate & Anna McGarrigle "Heart Like A Wheel" (live 1990)
Rufus & Martha Wainwright & Kate McGarrigle "Talk to Me of Mendocino" (2008)