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Monday, June 16, 2008

Who are the McGarrigle Sisters?

"Montreal's Irish/French-Canadian rooted Kate and Anna McGarrigle grew up in Quebec's Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts village, where they took piano lessons courtesy of the village nuns. By their teens their musical upbringing influenced their sound - from Victorian ballads to blues to Appalachian and French-Canadian folk songs. Through the 1960s, Kate went to McGill University to study engineering while Anna studied painting at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Montreal. As the '60's progressed into the '70's the sisters honed their songs and a demo tape eventually made it to Los Angeles where Maria Muldaur used two of the duo's songs on her album. Staff producer Greg Prestopino persuaded Warner Bros. to bring Kate and Anne out to Los Angeles to record a demo of their own. Warner Bros. vanity label, Hannibal Records' label chief Joe Boyd, signed the act and he and Prestopino would soon co-produce their auspicious debut in 1975 with 'Kate And Anna McGarrigle' featuring special guests Lowell George, David Grisman, and Tony Rice. The eponymous LP was named #1 Album Of The Year by Melody Maker and #2 by the New York Times, and Top Ten on countless critics' polls. It also contained the hit and frequently covered "Heart Like A Wheel." A year later they followed that up with 'Dancer With Bruised Knees'. Their third album was 'Pronto Monto' The 'French Record' was released in 1981 and finally gave the sisters critical acclaim (Rolling Stone magazine gave the record a 4 star rating) with its blend of English language originals plus reworkings of several McGarrigle classics remade in French. The album featured special guest appearances by Jay Ungar, Alun Davies, and Fotheringay's Pat Donaldson and Gerry Conway. Their next album would find its way onto Polydor Records as Hannibal changed distributors - it too received a 4 star rating from Rolling Stone - as did their commercial breakthrough, 'Heartbeats Accelerating' in 1990. The McGarrigle sisters have also made guest appearances on albums by many other musical luminaries such as Richard And Linda Thompson's 'Sunnyvista' and the Albion Band's 'Rise Up Like The Sun'. In 1991, they recorded three Stephen Foster songs for the Columbia/Sony release 'Songs Of The Civil War' and also contributed to the lullaby album and video 'Child Of Mine' in 1992. In 1995, the McGarrigles recorded 'Goin' Back To Harlan' with Emmylou Harris for her album 'Wrecking Ball'. Their most recent foray was as part of the live Joan Baez CD 'Ring Them Bells', as well as backing Quebec artist Gilles Vigneault. The McGarrigles have appeared in concerts and festivals throughout Canada and the US, as well as Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. They headlined the Newport Folk Festival in 1992, toured in the UK and Europe in 1993, and returned to sold-out shows in the UK in 1994. Kate McGarrigle is mother of musician Rufus Wainright (also son of eccentric folk guitarist Louden Wainright III), and occasionally accompanies her son at his live shows. With notes from Hans-Dieter Neuser"

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