Internationally acclaimed folk singer-songwriter Kate McGarrigle is a Canadian treasure. Alongside her sister Anna McGarrigle, Kate is best remembered as one half of the popular 1970s sibling folk duo and mother of musicians Rufus and Martha Wainwright. Kate sadly passed away after her battle with clear-cell sarcoma, a rare cancer that affects connective tissue such as bone, muscle, nerves and cartilage, on January 18, 2010.
Born in Montréal, Kate grew up the youngest of three sisters in the village of Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts, north of Montréal. Her family was a musical one, often gathering around the piano and singing, absorbing influences as varied as Gershwin, French Canadian folk songs, and Edith Piaf. The sisters were formally introduced to music when they begun taking piano lessons from the village nuns.
In the 1960s Kate and Anna established themselves in Montreal’s folk scene while they attended school. Anna, who is 14 months older than Kate, studied painting at the École des Beaux-Arts de Montréal while Kate studied engineering at McGill University. It was at this time that they began song writing.
Aside from numbers classic albums like Complainte pour Ste. Cathérine and Entre la jeunesse et la sagesse, fellow Canadians are most likely also familiar with her and her sister’s rendition of Wade Hemsworth‘s The Log Driver’s Waltz which appeared on a 1979 animated film by the National Film Board of Canada.