Daily Archives: January 19, 2010

Passing Strange‘s Eisa Davis in song and conversation

Eisa Davis

Eisa Davis, who played the mom in Passing Strange, a musical play that probably needs no introduction to readers of this blog, and the equally awesome Angela’s Mixtape (Eisa’s autobiographical show that focuses on her aunt, activist Angela Davis) is a featured artist  at Manhattan’s Symphony Space next month.

On Monday, Feb. 22, as part of Symphony Space-New York Times “Speaking of the Arts” series, The New York Times’ culture writer Daniel J. Wakin will speak with five composers who work with very different types of music. Eisa will represent the singer/songwriter genre, while Joan Tower will talk about concert music, Arturo O’Farrill about Afro-Latin jazz, Henry Threadgill about jazz and Jeanine Tesori about musical theater. Tickets for that event, at 7:30, are $25 and available here.

Then on Friday, Feb. 26, Eisa will return to the Symphony Space stage to perform old favorites and new songs with some of her “favorite musicians.” No word yet on who those favorites are, but I’m sure she’s trying to line up some of her friends from Passing Strange. Showtime is 7:30, and tickets are $25 and available here.

Eisa has a warm and lyrical vocal style, a magnetic stage presence and a charming personality. Don’t miss either event, as they’re bound to be entertaining and insightful. Both performances are at Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway at 95th Street, Manhattan. Call (212) 864-5400 or visit the web site for further information.

RIP Kate McGarrigle

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Canadian folksinger Kate McGarrigle, the head of a musical dynasty, who’s best known known by younger music fans as the mother of Rufus and Martha Wainwright, died last night. She was 63, and died of clear-cell carcinoma.

Kate, a Juno award winner and Member of the Order of Canada, was diagnosed with cancer in 2006.

Click here for a blog post on her death from the National Post, a Canadian newspaper, and here for the Toronto Star report.

Kate gave birth to Martha and Rufus, two gifted singers, during her marriage to singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III.

Kate performed for many years in a duo with her sister Anna as Kate and Anna McGarrigle, passing their folk-music traditions along to a large, extended family family of musicians, which, in addition to Loudon, Rufus and Martha, includes Maggie, Terre and Suzzy Roche who perform together as The Roches (the link: Suzzy had a daughter, singer-songwriter Lucy Wainwright Roche, with Loudon). The family had a tradition of gathering annually for Christmas concerts, sometimes at New York’s Carnegie Hall. The last McGarrigle Family Christmas concert, A Not So Silent Night, was held last Dec. 9 at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Here’s a video of Kate singing a new song, “Proserpina,” at that show:

Last Friday, Rufus’ web site announced that he was canceling his February/March tour of Australia and New Zealand “due to an illness in the family.”  Martha’s site indicates she has no upcoming concert dates.

Will You Miss Me When I’m Gone? sends best wishes to Kate’s extended family at this time of loss.