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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

In Context: Kate's Kids

Kate's Kids, Rufus and Martha Wainwright's musical tribute to their legendary mother, comes to the Howard Gilman Opera House on Wednesday, June 26. Context is everything, so get even closer to the production with this curated selection of articles, videos, and original blog pieces related to the show. Once you've seen it, help us keep the conversation going by telling us what you thought below.

On the Blog

Q&A with Rufus and Martha Wainwright
"Emmylou is our soul mother and Norah a soul sister, perfect for the family vibe that we always want to achieve and that we can’t seem to shake."

Around the Web

Spotify Playlist: Kate McGarrigle
Listen to tracks off of Sing Me the Songs: Celebrating the Works of Kate McGarrigle.

Kate & Anna McGarrigle (
Read about the life and career of one of folk’s most famous duos.

The Kate McGarrigle Foundation (
Proceeds from Kate’s Kids go to benefit this important foundation.

Rufus and Martha Wainwright Reminisce (
“Her catalog was the best gift she could have given her children,” says Rufus of his mother’s music.

“Hard Times Come Again No More” (YouTube)
A performance by Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Emmylou Harris, Rufus Wainwright, and others.

Fresh Air: Anna McGarrigle (NPR)
Anna McGarrigle discusses the loss of her sister and life-long singing partner with Terri Gross.

“Better Times Are Coming” (1991) (YouTube)
A young Rufus Wainwright joins his mom and aunt for a Stephen Foster classic.

“Gentle Annie” (YouTube)
Kate and Anna McGarrigle perform another Stephen Foster number.

“Talk to Me of Mendocino” (YouTube)
Kate McGarrigle, Rufus Wainwright and Martha Wainwright perform one of McGarrigle's most famous songs.

Studio Art Break: A Concert for Kate McGarrigle
Director Lian Lunson talks about her film version of Rufus and Martha Wainwright's moving musical tribute.

Worthwhile Words

Rufus Wainwright on family competitiveness:
We all [felt competitive]. But my theory on the whole game is that once you're onstage, and the lights are on, and the mikes are turned up, there’s this third being that takes over. And it has no mother, it has no father, it has no siblings, it has no children. It’s just this force, and nothing will get in its way.

Now Your Turn . . .

So what's your verdict? Once you've seen the show, tell us what you thought in the comments below.


  1. It was a great show - good energy, fun, and it honored Kate. Great to see Emmylou Harris and Norah Jones and a real treat to see Anna McGarrigle perform. Of course, it was also fun to see Rufus and Martha. The rest of the family and musicians and singers were fine as well. How wonderful that Kate's music continues to live and that the organization in her name will be helpful to others.

  2. I'm sorry to be critical of such good people and such a great cause, but I had really hoped to hear more of Kate's own music last night. After all, wasn't this a tribute concert meant to honor Kate's work? Why divert from that? Also, while I thought Rufus did a great job explaining the foundation and their fundraising efforts up front, the constant interruptions attempting to drum up more money for extremely expensive items available in a silent auction off stage were a bit off-putting, as was the prolonged on stage chat midway through the event between the two family "matriarchs" who took seemingly forever to praise each other for all the good work they had been doing. Come on now, enough is enough. We were all presumably there because we loved Kate (and still love Anna). The tickets weren't cheap, and we were happy to help, but don't punish us for it. The whole night was highly disorganized, too, with the "kids" openly argumentative with each other and their amazingly talented guests. I'm just disappointed. There was a stage full of extraordinary musicians there all purportedly honoring one of the greatest singer-songwriters of my generation. It could have been fantastic, but it really fell short. I understand memorials can be difficult and emotionally trying to produce for all involved, particularly family members, but there was a real need for a savvy stage manager last night to pull it all together. I expected more from BAM.

  3. I also found it to be a bit of a mess, but wasn't upset by it at all--it felt endearing, genuine, and all the performers were so talented that it didn't affect the quality of the music. Could have done without that Mark Ronson number, but the rest of the pieces made up for it. I had tears in my eyes for much of the night.

    1. I agree with this and the above review in different ways. The show was kind of sloppy, the auctioneering was overboard and I didn't mind so much. My complaint is with the sound system. I think throughout the evening the levels were all over the place and often it was an unsuccessful struggle to understand Kate's wonderful lyrics. I think I would have loved Mark Ronson's number if it had been mic-ed better.
      These singers deserved better. So did the audience.

  4. It was a wonderful evening, filled with music, sadness and joy. The title "Kate's Kids" suggested that it would be as much about Kate as about Rufus and Martha who are very talented musisicians in their own right, and they both are doing a great job in ppromoting Kate's legacy. I loved every minute of the show, my focus was on the music but the stage banter was highly entertaining too, and I loved to hear all those little stories about Kate. So my only criticism would be that it was too short but that's always the case with a good show - it keeps you longing for more.

  5. I'm with the Anons on this! Are your their publicist, Eva? This was billed everywhere, including on this very page, as: "Kate's Kids, Rufus and Martha Wainwright's musical tribute to their legendary mother." That is what I had expected and what I had paid to see, not this vanity promotion of the work of her kids and songs by others who were not even remotely connected to Kate. The only thing that night left me "longing for more" of was Kate's music.


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