Rufus Wainwright's mother, Kate McGarrigle, dies at 63


I hesitated about devoting a post to her. After all, you might say, what's this to us, and it's as if you report that Frankie Muniz' aunt or neighbour just died, right? Not quite though.

Not too many people who know and like Rufus Wainwright realize that his sister, Martha, is also a commanding singer-songwriter, let alone that his father, Loudon Wainwright III, and mother, Kate McGarrigle with her sister Anna, were extremely influential artists in their own right, and that Rufus would sound a whole lot different if he had been raised in another family.

I've always been fond of the music made by his parents. I've even been to their concerts! Especially, for Kate, there was a purity, honesty and total lack of pretense or image consciousness to her music that was a rarity even in the Seventies. My dad said that their music reminded him of how he used to play at home with his dad and brothers, and I think there's this tradition and homespun simplicity that is their unique quality.

Because music can speak ten times louder than words, I include a video that affects me deeply. Man, I go to pieces every time I watch this, it's so simple, pure and powerful!

It's the late Kate with her children Martha and Rufus back in 1991, accompanied by her sister Anna, with her husband Dane Lanken and their children Lily and Sylvan. Joel Zifkin plays fiddle. It's a Stephen Foster Civil War song from 1854!

Anna just wrote on their site:

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.

And Rufus:

When inevitably I read today in the papers that my mother lost her battle with cancer last night, I am filled with an immense desire to add that this battle, though lost, was tremendously fruitful during these last three and a half years of her life. She witnessed her daughter's marriage, the creation of my first opera, the birth of her first grandchild Arcangelo, and gave the greatest performance of her life to a packed crowd at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Not to mention traveling to some of the world's most incredible places with both my sister, her husband Brad, my boyfriend Jorn and myself. Yes, it was all too brief, but as I was saying to her sister Anna last night while sitting by her body after the struggle had ceased, there is never enough time and she, my amazing mother with whom everyone fell in love, went out there and bloody did it. I will miss you mother, my sweet and valiant explorer, lebwohl and adio. X
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