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Rufus Wainwright's Mom, Folk Singer Kate McGarrigle, Dies at 63

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Jan. 19 2010, Published 8:57 a.m. ET

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Rufus Wainwright's mother Kate McGarrigle, a singer best known for performing folk duets with her sister Anna, died at her Montreal home today at  the age 63 from her battle with cancer. Kate's brother-in-law told the Associated Press, that she was surrounded by her sisters, Jane and Anna, and her children, Rufus and Martha Wainwright, a well-known singer herself, at the time of her death.

Kate had been battling cancer since the summer of 2006, the AP reports. The cancer started in her small intestine and spread to her liver.

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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.

The duo was born in Montreal and grew up in the mountains of Quebec, where they learned the piano from the village nuns.

The sisters big break came in the 1970s, when their songs were covered by numerous artists, including Linda Ronstadt.

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.

Rufus recently canceled an upcoming tour, due to his mom's illness. He carries on his mother's legacy with a unique folksy sound that he applies to the worlds of rock, opera and film.

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