Kate McGarrigle, Rufus Wainwright's mother, dies

OTTAWA Tue Jan 19, 2010 6:00pm EST

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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian folk singer Kate McGarrigle, who enjoyed a long, successful musical partnership with her sister Anna and was the mother of musicians Rufus and Martha Wainwright, has died at the age of 63.

McGarrigle had been suffering from clear cell sarcoma, a rare kind of cancer, for more than three years. She died on Monday evening, her sister said on Tuesday.

"Sadly our sweet Kate had to leave us last night. She departed in a haze of song and love surrounded by family and good friends. She is irreplaceable and we are broken-hearted. Till we meet again dear sister," Anna McGarrigle wrote on the sisters' website www.mcgarrigles.com.

Rufus Wainwright said his mother had had a "tremendously fruitful" last three years, during which she had witnessed her daughter's marriage, the birth of her first grandchild and given a final concert in London last month.

"There is never enough time and she, my amazing mother with whom everyone fell in love, went out there and bloody did it," he wrote on his website www.rufuswainwright.com.

The sisters broke into the limelight with their song "Heart Like a Wheel", which U.S. singer Linda Ronstadt turned into a major hit in 1974. It featured on their first album, "Kate and Anna McGarrigle", which was released in 1975 and chosen as best album of the year by music magazine Melody Maker.

The pair -- born near Montreal in French-speaking Quebec -- recorded a total of 10 albums, some of them in French. They were known for their inventive style and intricate vocal harmonies.

McGarrigle was married to U.S. singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III, with whom she had Rufus and Martha. The pair later divorced.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Peter Galloway)

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