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Tribute to Anna McGarrigle, C.A.L.Q.

Anna McGarrigle est faite Compagne des arts et des lettres du Québec par Marie Côté, le 29 mai 2017
Anna McGarrigle is made Companion of the Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec by Marie Côté, on May 29, 2017
© Alexandre Claude

Anna McGarrigle
© Anna McGarrigle

Anna McGarrigle

There was only one official language in the McGarrigle family: music. Anna and her sister Kate could practically play an instrument before they could walk. From Montreal to Saint-Sauveur-des-Monts, the piano was the glue that kept their modest but tightly-knit family together. The McGarrigles made their own bread and jam, sewed their own clothes and, before too long, were writing their own songs. Singing together in English or French, they performed together in perfect harmony and with sincerity, a lifelong trait. Since folk music makes no allowances for artifice, they would take to the stage with a sense of whimsy and voluntary simplicity, enchanting audiences with their vocal arrangements, multi-instrumental talents and an off-the-cuff "family party" atmosphere that inevitably characterized their shows. Their dedicated fans included a number of internationally recognized artists and collaborators such as Emmylou Harris, Gilles Vigneault, Leonard Cohen and Linda Ronstadt. Thanks to the McGarrigle sisters, songs in French rang out from stages across English-speaking Canada and the United States.

It is difficult to speak of Anna McGarrigle in the singular since she entered our hearts and left her mark on our cultural landscape along with her sister Kate. Together, they released some 10 albums that continue to delight listeners with their freshness and originality. Their fourth album, Entre la jeunesse et la sagesse, bursts with life, from the tenderest whisper to the strongest shout.

This text was read in French on May 29, 2017, when Anna McGarrigle received the honorary insignia of the Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec. Held at the Phi Centre in Montréal, the tribute was organized by the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and hosted by Claude Deschênes.

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