Kate McGarrigle’s family remembers her

These tributes from Kate’s children, Rufus and Martha, and her sister and musical partner Anna were frank, touching and funny.


She was a magical woman, one foot in another world, a great songwriter, performer and bohemian, and she was surrounded, as she was dying, by family and friends. My father was there. Emmylou Harris was there. We sang to her as she lay there, in fact that certainly might have made her go that little bit faster.

As we were having this jamboree, her breathing became more laboured and she made a moaning noise. One of the nurses said this could go on for four days and we had already exhausted the back catalogue! Then Kate breathed a little differently, it was like she was saying, “Hold on, I’m going to end this show” and she died. I was looking right into her face, her eyes were open, and my aunt Jane was holding her hand. It was an amazing experience.


I’m very shaken from losing my sister and closest friend, although last week we had a little spat. She loved fresh fruit and we had bought her some grapes, which I called “those little sacks of fluid”. Maybe it’s the way I said it, because she snapped at me: “Why do you always see the bad in things?” Maybe she associated it with the state of her lungs. I lost it, we had words, and I left and then apologised the next day. It was all fine again.

… Kate was one of the finest songwriters: her soul told her hands what to do. The song she wrote for Martha, which she performed at the Albert Hall, Proserpina, makes me cry. It’s amazing. For me, she’ll always be a contradiction: the widely read sophisticate who loved mixing with the high-end crowd with Rufus, and the rustic character, never happier than when riding an old bike, or cross-country skiing or knitting Scandinavian sweaters.

More tributes at the Montreal Gazette.  And here is that final, moving performance of “Proserpina“:

Kate McGarrigle’s family remembers her

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