Yesterday morning I woke up to an National Public Radio (NPR) story about the sounds of Haiti one week after the devastating earthquake. My ears were filled with the voices of children singing joyously in French about Joshua tumbling down the walls of Jericho. Ironic choice of song, but I was deeply moved by the music and I began to think how music sometimes breaks down walls between people. And then Kate McGarrigle passed away on January 18th, 2010. What a loss. So much music and joy came from Kate and her sister Anna and their collaborations over the years with Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Joan Baez, Leonard Cohen and The Chieftans to name but a few. Last weekend I was in New England and I got the chance to make music with a couple of wonderful people – Keith and Mickey. Keith is one of my oldest and dearest friends and music has always been a part of our bond. Sometimes I sang, sometimes I listened, and sometimes I tried to paint them playing, happy to be a part of the music.
Mike Rigenstrief wrote in the Montreal Gazette this week “but perhaps Kate and Anna’s most enduring musical legacy is communal music-making: the way they’d gather friends and family together in concerts….and make thousands of people, most of whom they’d never met, all feel like they were sitting around the kitchen table or in a living room, making music together. That is the essence of folk music. “ I think about all of the people I’ve shared or made music with over the years in all the living rooms, kitchens, stairwells and cars on road trips. Music is the tie that binds and can help to heal sadness, loss and despair.
Musicians are reaching out to Haiti with “Download to Donate – Songs for Haiti” with 100% of the funds going to Doctors Without Borders, the Red Cross and Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund. If she was with us, I’m sure Kate would be a part of this music for relief. Kate you raced the Matapedia, you could not slow down, and you were not afraid.