Kate McGarrigle, the Canadian singer songwriter best known for her performances with her sister, Anna, as the McGarrigle Sisters, and mother of singers Rufus and Martha Wainwright, has died at the age of 63 following a long battle with cancer.
Kate died at home on Monday 18th January surrounded by her sister, Anna and her other sister Jane and her children. She had been battling with cancer since the summer of 2006. She displayed a remarkable resilience as she demonstrated in a recent three hour performance at the “Wainwright Family Christmas” show at the Royal Albert Hall in December 2009 along with Rufus and Martha. The show raised $55,000 (£33,600) for the Kate McGarrigle Fund, 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.
Her sister, Anna, wrote this on the Mcgarrigle website on Tuesday:
“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.”
Bob Harris, who first encountered the McGarrigles on the television show The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1976 said
“you could sum Kate up in one word: warmth”.
He went on to talk about the McGarrigle Sisters as performers:
“the way they intertwined their voices around each other”
“They had that sibling connection, like the Everly Brothers: two voices that instinctively mesh together in a quite amazing way to take you to a different place.”
Their debut album Kate and Anna McGarrigle beat releases such as Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, Bob Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks, Fleetwood Mac and Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run to be voted Melody Maker’s album of the year for 1975. They first attracted attention in 1974 when Linda Ronstadt recorded their song Heart Like a Wheel as the title track for one of her albums.
Mike Harding, of BBC Radio 2, said
“Kate was a folk singer through and through, a bi-lingual Canadian who celebrated her heritage and drew on it for songs that were to become standards on the folk scene,”
“It is tragic that she has finally lost her fight with cancer – she was a beautiful and rare human being.”
Artists at this years Celtic Connections also paid tribute. Linda Thompson announced during her performance:
“I knew Kate McGarrigle for over 40 years, but we got very close when our children became musicians.
“We all did her last show at Christmas in the Albert Hall. She was a remarkable woman, and such a talent.
“For my money, she and Anna’s first record is one of the best ever. My thoughts and love are with Rufus and Martha and her whole family.”
To paraphrase Rabbie Burns: “Here’s tae her, wha’s like her? Damn few and their a’ deid!”
Kate & Anna McGarrigle and friends (Rufus Wainwright – son of Kate -, Emmylou Harris, Mary Black, Karen Matheson, Rod Paterson) perform Stephen Foster’s Hard times come again no more during the Transatlantic sessions.
[audio:http://www.box.net/shared/static/0eg5minub8.mp3| titles=Swimming Song|artists=Kate and Anna McGarrigle]
Heart Like a Wheel
[audio:http://www.box.net/shared/static/tjubpbo8ho.mp3| titles=Heart Like a Wheel|artists=Kate and Anna McGarrigle]
Tracks taken from: Kate & Anna McGarrigle
Rest in peace Kate.
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