TORONTO - Canadian folk singer and songwriter Kate McGarrigle, best
known for performing with her sister Anna, has died of cancer. She was
McGarrigle’s brother-in-law, Dane Lanken, said the singer died at her
Montreal home Monday night surrounded by her sisters, Jane and Anna, and
her children, Rufus and Martha Wainwright, also singers.
He said McGarrigle had been battling cancer since the summer of 2006. He
said the cancer started in her small intestine and spread to her liver.
Kate and Anna, known as the McGarrigle Sisters, began their careers
performing at Montreal coffeehouses in the 1960s with a group called the
Mountain City Four. They got their break in the 1970s, when their songs
were covered by numerous artists, including Linda Ronstadt, who used
“Heart Like a Wheel” as the title song to one of her albums.
In 1975 they made their first record, “Kate and Anna McGarrigle,” which
brought them critical acclaim and additional famous covers by artists
including Emmylou Harris, Judy Collins and Billy Bragg.
Their own well-known releases included “The Work Song,” “Cool River” and
Kate McGarrigle received the Order of Canada in 1994, one of the
country’s highest honors.
McGarrigle was once married to American singer-songwriter Loudon
Wainwright III. Her son, Rufus Wainwright, recently canceled an upcoming
tour, citing an illness in the family.
Born in Montreal, the famous singing duo grew up in the Laurentian
Mountains village of Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts, Quebec. There, they
learned the piano from the village nuns.