McGarrigle Christmas Tradition Continues in California Benefit Concerts with Rufus & Martha Wainwright, Emmylou Harris
In 2005, Nonesuch released The McGarrigle Christmas Hour, an album in which sisters Kate and Anna McGarrigle, their family—including Kate's children, Rufus Wainwright and Martha Wainwright—and honorary family members, like Emmylou Harris, celebrated the holidays in song. That same year saw the start of a holiday tradition of live McGarrigle/Wainwright Christmas shows full of eclectic carols in French and English, traditional and not so traditional, starring McGarrigles, Wainwrights, and many friends. This year, the music-making continues with Rufus and Martha Wainwright’s Christmas 101, three concerts in California this week, featuring appearances from Emmylou Harris, Maria Muldaur, and Van Dyke Parks. The shows kick off tonight at the Fox Theatre in Oakland, followed by two shows at Royce Hall in Los Angeles on Friday and Saturday, December 21 and 22.
Kate McGarrigle hoped to take the Christmas show across the North America, playing in as many cities as possible. However, in 2006, she was diagnosed with sarcoma, a rare and deadly cancer. There was no show in 2006, but in 2007, the family brought the show back to Carnegie Hall in New York City. Kate McGarrigle curated and planned the show. Although she was too ill to perform, she did come out onstage at the end, much to the delight of those in attendance.
The annual concerts have since gone on to support the Kate McGarrigle Fund, which is dedicated to research for a cure for sarcoma. Kate McGarrigle passed away in January 2010, less than a month after performing at a sold-out holiday concert at London's Royal Albert Hall. Rufus and Martha Wainwright revived the family tradition last year with shows in Montreal (which you can hear at music.cbc.ca) and New York City once again, in honor of their mother and to raise money for the cause. All proceeds from this week's concerts in California will benefit The Kate McGarrigle Foundation.