Product of musical parents Loudon Wainwright and Kate McGarrigle, both steeped in the folk tradition, Rufus Wainwright comes from a family of musicians. His father is best known for a novelty hit about a dead skunk. He also acts, having had roles in The Aviator, Big Fish, Elizabethtown, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and the television series, Undeclared. A prolific writer, Loudon released over twenty albums in his long career. Mother Kate McCarrigle has also enjoyed a sustained, successful folk music career. Rufus’s sister Martha Wainwright writes and performs music as well.
Playing piano at age 6, Rufus was touring with “The McGarrigle Sisters and Family” by age 13. High school was in upstate New York and he later studied piano in Montréal. Wainwright has dual citizenship.
While still a teenager, Wainwright admitted that he was gay and has said that his parents didn’t embrace his sexual preference, choosing rather to simply avoid discussion of it.
When I first heard Rufus Wainwright, (make sure you check out his MySpace Page) I knew nothing of him. His voice is distinctive as his music is interesting. “Cigarettes and Chocolate” is brilliant, showcasing both his writing prowess and his vocal assets. The orchestration is lush yet dynamic and poignant.
I instantly bought the first CD of his I could find. Playing it non-stop, my oldest teen son, also a musician, became a fan…then my youngest son. They both saw him live. We kept buying successive Rufus CDs, sharing them. At this point, I still suspect my oldest has one I bought but he denies it. He’s getting married next week and moving to Maryland, so I suspect that if he does have it, I’ll need a replacement. That’s one thing I learned about kids. If you raise them to like music, they’ll steal yours. The trade-off is, they keep me up on stuff I’d never otherwise hear. But I digress.
I love Wainwright’s expressive voice, gift for creating interesting melodies and his ability to express subtle nuances through his singing. He’s also a writer of considerable depth. His songs are thought-provoking and interesting.
This one is fairly well known but one I never tire of hearing, Jeff Buckley’s starkly beautiful “Hallelujah”
Found another interesting clip, this one a Beatles cover with some collaborators.