Kate McGarrigle, CM (February 6, 1946 - January 18, 2010) was a Canadian folk music singer-songwriter, who wrote and performed as a duo with her sister Anna McGarrigle.
She is the mother of singers Rufus Wainwright and Martha Wainwright from her marriage to American singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III, which ended in divorce.
Born in Montreal, Quebec to English and French Canadian parents, the three McGarrigle sisters (Jane, Anna, and Kate, the youngest) grew up in the village of Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts, north of Montreal. Their family was a musical one on both sides, often gathering around the piano and singing, allowing Kate and her sisters to absorb influences as varied as Gershwin, French Canadian folk songs, Stephen Foster, and composer-singers such as Wade Hemsworth, and Edith Piaf. The sisters were formally introduced to music by taking piano lessons from the village nuns.
In the 1960s Kate and Anna established themselves in Montreal's burgeoning folk scene while they attended school. From 1963 to 1967, they teamed up with Jack Nissenson and Peter Weldon to form the folk group, the Mountain City Four.
Anna, who is 14 months older than Kate, studied painting at the École des Beaux-Arts de Montréal (now part of the Université du Québec à Montréal) in Montreal; Kate studied engineering at McGill University. It was at this time that they began writing songs. Although she sang mostly in English, according to Juan Rodriguez, she and Anna "put Québécois folk music...on the global music map in 1980 sic with Complainte pour Ste. Cathérine, Entre la jeunesse et la sagesse (commonly known as the French Record) and 2003's La vache qui pleure.
The McGarrigle sisters' life has been chronicled in Dane Lanken's Kate and Anna McGarrigle: Songs and Stories (2007).
Place Kate-McGarrigle was inaugurated on August 7, 2013 in Montreal's Outremont borough. It contains a sculpture by Robert Wilson in the form of a double chair. McGarrigle - a Montreal native - lived nearby before her death.
Kate and Anna's 1975 self-titled debut album was chosen by Melody Maker as Best Record of the Year. Their albums Matapedia (1996) and The McGarrigle Hour (1998) won Juno Awards. In 1999 Kate and Anna received Women of Originality awards and in 2006 SOCAN Lifetime Achievement awards. In 1993 she was made a Member of the Order of Canada.