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Kate McGarrigle
Kate McGarrigle

Folk icon Kate McGarrigle dead at 63 Add to ...

Internationally acclaimed folk singer Kate McGarrigle, best known for performing with her sister Anna, has died of cancer. She was 63.

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.

He said McGarrigle had been battling cancer since the summer of 2006. The cancer started in her small intestine and spread to her liver, he said.

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 Lying Song. But Canadians are likely most familiar with their rendition of Wade Hemsworth's The Log Driver's Waltz, which appeared on a 1979 animated film by the National Film Board. The sisters were the subject of a 1982 NFB documentary.

Watch The Log Driver's Waltz:

<embed src="http://media1.nfb.ca/medias/flash/ONFflvplayer-gama.swf" width="600" height="500" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" flashvars="mID=IDOBJ251&bufferTime=10&width=516&height=337&image=http://media1.nfb.ca/medias/nfb_tube/thumbs_large/2008/log_drivers_big.jpg&showWarningMessages=false&streamNotFoundDelay=15&lang=en&getPlaylistOnEnd=true&playlist_id=REL179&embeddedMode=true"></embed>

Kate McGarrigle was invested with the Order of Canada in 1994. The sisters received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award in 2004.

Her son Rufus Wainwright recently cancelled an upcoming tour, citing an illness in the family.

McGarrigle was once married to American singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III.

Born in Montreal, the famous singing duo grew up in the Laurentian Mountains village of Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts, Que. There, they learned the piano from the village nuns.

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