Classic Rock Wiki

Kate (February 6, 1946 – January 18, 2010) and Anna (born December 4, 1944) McGarrigle were a duo of Canadian singer-songwriters from Quebec, who performed as a duo until Kate McGarrigle's death on January 18, 2010.


  • 1 Profile
  • 2 Discography
    • 2.1 Albums
    • 2.2 DVDs
    • 2.3 Other contributions
    • 2.4 Film work
  • 3 See also
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links


Anna McGarrigle and Kate McGarrigle were born in Montreal of mixed Irish- and French-Canadian background, but lived their childhood in the Laurentian Mountains village of Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts, northwest of Montreal, where they learned piano from village nuns. In the 1960s, in Montreal, while Kate was studying engineering at McGill University and Anna art at the École des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, they began performing in public and then began writing their own songs. From 1963 to 1967 they teamed up with Jack Nissenson and Peter Weldon to form the folk group Mountain City Four. Into the twenty-first century, Kate and Anna McGarrigle continued to write, and recorded and performed music, with assorted accompanying musicians including Gerry Conway, Pat Donaldson, Ken Pearson, Michel Pépin, Chaim Tannenbaum andJoel Zifkin.

Their songs have been covered by a variety of artists including Maria Muldaur, Nana Mouskouri, Linda Ronstadt,[1] Emmylou Harris,[1] Billy Bragg, Pet Shop Boys, Chloé Sainte-Marie, Judy Collins,[1] Anne Sofie von Otter and others. The covers of their songs by well known artists led to the McGarrigles getting their first recording contract in 1974. They created ten albums from 1975 through 2008.[1]

Although associated with Quebec's anglophone community, the McGarrigles also recorded and performed many songs in French. Two of their albums, Entre la jeunesse et la sagesse (also known as French Record) and La vache qui pleure, are entirely in French, but many of their other records include one or two French songs as well. Most of their French songs were co-written by Philippe Tatartcheff, with occasional input from Kate McGarrigle's son, Canadian-American solo artist Rufus Wainwright. Rufus and his sister Martha Wainwright, also a singer, are the children of Kate and her former husband, singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III.

Their version of Wade Hemsworth's song, "The Log Driver's Waltz" grew famous as the soundtrack for a 1979 animated film by Canada's National Film Board. They provided backing vocals on Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds's 2001 album No More Shall We Part. They appeared on the children's TV show Sharon, Lois & Bram's Elephant Show in Season 4, episode 50 entitled "Sibling Rivalry".

They were appointed Members of the Order of Canada in 1993 and received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award in 2004.[2][3]

Another sister, Jane McGarrigle, is a film and television composer who wrote and performed several songs with the duo.

Kate died January 18, 2010 at the age of 63 after fighting a rare form of cancer.[4][5][6]



  • 1975 - Kate and Anna McGarrigle
  • 1977 - Dancer with Bruised Knees
  • 1978 - Pronto Monto
  • 1981 - Entre Lajeunesse et la sagesse (French Record)
  • 1982 - Love Over and Over
  • 1990 - Heartbeats Accelerating
  • 1996 - Matapédia (winner of 1997 Juno Award for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year - Group)
  • 1998 - The McGarrigle Hour (winner of 1999 Juno Award for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year - Group)
  • 2003 - La vache qui pleure
  • 2005 - The McGarrigle Christmas Hour
  • 2010 - ODDiTTiES
  • 2011 - Tell My Sister


  • 2009 - A Not So Silent Night (with Rufus & Martha Wainwright)
  • 1999 - "The McGarrigle Hour" (with Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright, Loudon Wainwright, [Chaim Tannenbaum, Jane McGarrigle, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Lily Lanken)

Other contributions[edit][]

  • 1979 - Sunnyvista by Richard and Linda Thompson
  • 1991 - Songs of the Civil War - "Was My Brother in the Battle?", "Better Times Are Coming", "Hard Times Come Again No More"
  • 1992 - 'Til Their Eyes Shine (The Lullaby Album) - "Lullaby For A Doll"
  • 1999 - Live at the World Café - Volume 9 - "DJ Serenade"
  • 2006 - Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man Soundtrack - "Winter Lady" (with Martha Wainwright)
  • 2008 - Northern Songs: Canada's Best and Brightest - "Entre Lajeunesse et la Sagesse"

Film work[edit][]

Before Tomorrow is a Canadian drama film, released in 2008. The film is an adaptation of the novel For Morgendagen by Danish writer Jørn Riel.

The sisters were the subject of an eponymous 1981 documentary film directed by Caroline Leaf.