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Rufus Wainwright's Extended Folk-Singing Family
Singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright was dubbed "Best New Artist" by Rolling Stone magazine in 1998 and by 2006 he was selling out Carnegie Hall two nights in a row. He first reached a wide audience with his cover of John Lennon's "Across the Universe" for the 2001 movie I Am Sam, appearing in the video with the movie's co-star, Dakota Fanning. Rufus's father is singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III--best known for his 1972 novelty song "Dead Skunk (In the Middle of the Road)"--who put Rufus's demo tapes in the right hands and got him a recording contract. His mother is folk singer Kate McGarrigle, who performs as half of a duo with her sister Anna McGarrigle. Rufus and his sister, folk singer Martha Wainwright, first performed as part of "The McGarrigle Sisters & Family," when Rufus was only thirteen. Martha's first recording was a track contributed to one of the McGarrigle Sisters' albums. When Rufus started his solo career, Martha opened for him, then harmonized with him during his performances.  Their cousin Lily Lanken (Anna's daughter) sings backup in Martha's band, as well as on The McGarrigle Sisters' albums. Meanwhile, Loudon's younger sister Sloan Wainwright is an indie singer-songwriter, as is his daughter from his second marriage, Lucy Wainwright Roche. Lucy's mom is Suzzy Roche, a member of The Roches along with her two sisters, Maggie Roche and Terre Roche. The Roches were active from 1979 until 1997, appearing as the musical guests on Saturday Night Live in November 1979 (exactly four years after Loudon Wainwright appeared on the same stage) and on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1985. Their 1995 children's album Will You Be My Friend? featured the backing vocals of Suzzy's daughter Lucy. Loudon Wainwright released several songs about his children as they were growing up, while Rufus and Martha have both covered songs written by their father and written their own songs about their family during their childhoods. These songs have not always been happy ones.

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