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Anna McGarrigle praises Kate's genius

Anna McGarrigle, right, is speaking out about the loss of her sister, Kate, left, last January. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Anna McGarrigle says she's no longer interested in singing but will step onto the stage later this year at tributes to her sister, the late Kate McGarrigle.

The sisters had a remarkable music career as folk duo Kate and Anna McGarrigle. But Kate died in January 2010 of a rare cancer at age 63 and Anna says she is not ready to sing alone.

In an interview with CBC's Q cultural affairs show, Anna McGarrigle said she felt very alone without her sister at her side in the months after her death.

"For first two of three months I hunkered down in Alexandria, Ont., where I live and I was almost afraid to go out on the street by myself," McGarrigle said.

It was working with music again that started to bring her around. She has released a compilation of their recordings, most of the songs previously unreleased, in an album called Oddities.

"For a long time I couldn't listen to Kate sing, it just made me cry terribly and then… I don't know, you just have to do it," she said.

She is releasing the music to iTunes through a label she and Kate created together. Oddities is a mix of tunes they have written, such as Lullaby for a Doll, and classic songs such as The Log Drivers' Waltz.

Anna McGarrigle says Kate was always the sister who was the "mover" and who wanted to try new ideas. Five years older, Kate was the first to go to New York in 1969, the first to suggest writing their own songs and the one who had definite ideas about how they should be sung. That's one reason why Anna is reluctant to go on singing without her sister, saying her voice is not up to it.

"I'm not really in the mood for singing any more…In a tribute show I'll sing if people ask me to do it, but I'm not interested in singing," McGarrigle said.

She will be participating in a New York tribute to their music in May, featuring Martha and Rufus Wainwright (Kate's children), Emmylou Harris and Antony of Antony and the Johnsons.

She also took part in the tribute to Kate last year in London which showcased the huge influence the McGarrigles have had on other artists. McGarrigle said the London concert was "amazing."

"My sister deserves all the praise she gets, she was a genius — witty, gorgeous, everything …uninhibited, nuts," she said.



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