Kate (February 6, 1946 – January 18, 2010) and Anna (born December 4, 1944) McGarrigle, were a pair of Canadian singer-songwriters from Quebec, that performed as a duo until Kate McGarrigle's death on January 18, 2010. Anna McGarrigle and Kate McGarrigle were born in Montreal of mixed English and French-Canadian background, but lived their childhood in the Laurentian Mountains village of Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts, Québec, northwest of Montreal, where they learned piano from village nuns. In the 1960s, in Montreal, while Kate was studying engineering at McGill University and Anna art at the École des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, they began performing in public and then began writing their own songs. From 1963-1967 they teamed up Jack Nissenson and Peter Weldon to form the folk group Mountain City Four.
Their songs have been covered by a variety of artists including Maria Muldaur, Nana Mouskouri, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Billy Bragg, Chloé Sainte-Marie, Judy Collins, Anne Sofie von Otter, and others. The covers of their songs by well known artists led to the McGarrigle's getting their first recording contract in 1974. They created ten albums from 1975 through 2008.
Although associated with Quebec's anglophone community, the McGarrigles also recorded and performed many songs in French. Two of their albums, Entre la jeunesse et la sagesse (also known as French Record) and La vache qui pleure, are entirely in French, but many of their other records include one or two French songs as well. Most of their French songs were co-written by Philippe Tatartcheff, with occasional input from Kate McGarrigle's son, Canadian-American solo artist Rufus Wainwright. Rufus and his sister Martha Wainwright, also a singer, are the children of Kate and her former husband (married 1971, separated 1976, divorced 1978), singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III.
They have performed or recorded with the Irish group The Chieftains, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds on their "No more shall we part" album, Emmylou Harris on her Daniel Lanois-produced album Wrecking Ball (with Anna’s “Goin’ Back to Harlan” among the album’s tracks), Joan Baez on her live recording Ring Them Bells, and Gilles Vigneault on “Charlie-Jos” on his CD, C’est ainsi que j’arrive à toi.