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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.
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.