'Kate was a warrior and the foundation was a weapon to fight back with' – Jane McGarrigle

Carmen Marie Fabio
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“The What Four” perform on April 23 at the Sala Rossa

Despite performing under the moniker “The What Four”, a troupe of eight locally and internationally renowned musicians, vocalists, and friends are collaborating on an evening of folk and blues tunes at Saint Laurent Boulevard's Sala Rossa to raise funds for the McGill University Health Care foundation to benefit the Kate McGarrigle Fund.

Kate McGarrigle (left) pictured here with sister Anna, passed away January 2010 from a rare form of cancer. The What Four musical troupe will host an evening of folk and blues to benefit the Kate McGarrigle Fund at Saint Laurent Boulevard's Sala Rossa April 23.

“Kate was a warrior and the foundation was a weapon to fight back with,” said Kate's sister Jane of the fund that came about at the suggestion of Kate's son, singer and songwriter Rufus Wainwright, and friend Deborah Adler.

The late singer who toured and performed folk-rock originals and classics in both French and English for decades with sister Anna established the research fund shortly before her death from clear cell sarcoma, a rare form of cancer in January 2010.

“We've done a series of concerts since Kate died,” said long-time friend and band mate Peter Weldon, “and they've all been very well attended.” In the past two years, the What Four have also held concerts raising funds for the relief effort after the Japan tsunami in 2011 and Breast Cancer Action Montreal.

Besides Weldon and Jane McGarrigle, rounding out the group is Jack Nissenson, John Knowles, Marvin Segal, Andrew Cowan, Weldon's daughter Kathleen Weldon, and the legendary Stephen Barry.

“The late ‘50s and early ‘60s is when we really started to all play together,” said Weldon who himself plays the banjo, mandolin, guitar, and harmonica. Along with Nissenson and Kate and Anna McGarrigle, the quartet comprised the Mountain City Four in the mid ‘60s, establishing the footprint of the sisters' successful international musical career until Kate's death.

“It was tremendously important to Kate,” said Jane McGarrigle of the foundation's efforts to further research into cancer treatments, “and the work is being continued by family and friends through various tribute concerts, large and small.”

“It was tremendously important to Kate,” said Jane McGarrigle of the foundation's efforts to further research into cancer treatments.

McGarrigle said a committee made up of family, physicians and friends determines the annual grant recipients who thus far have been heading up individual projects dedicated to clear-cell sarcoma research (Kate's particular disease) or other related "orphan" cancers, so called as they get significantly less research funding.

The concert date is April 23 at 7:30 p.m. and doors at the Sala Rossa's 4848 Saint Laurent Blvd. location open at 7 p.m. The suggested entrance fee is $20.00.

“The donations are as large as 10 per cent of one diehard fan's estate,” said Jane McGarrigle, “and as small as the $20.00 we are suggesting for our show - all of it welcome.”

For more information on the foundation, consult http://www.muhcfoundation.com/mcgarrigle. To learn more of the What Four, consult  https://www.facebook.com/TheWhatFour or https://www.youtube.com/user/thewhatfour

 

Geographic location: Japan, Mountain City

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