Monday Music: Martha Wainwright on Birth, Death, Motherhood and the Song “Proserpina”

This past weekend NPR’s Jacki Lyden interviewed Martha Wainwright about her most recent album, Come Home to Mama. Martha is the daughter of folk revival musicians Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle, and the brother of the brilliant Rufus Wainwright.

In 2009 Martha gave birth to her first child. Two months later her mother passed away at the age of 63 after a battle with cancer. In this subtle yet personal interview, Martha touches on the fine line between death and creation, an awakening to life after the loss of her mother, and the power of music passed down among generations.

One of the tracks on the album is the last song ever written by her mother, “Proserpina.” In the interview she states:

“Before I started making this record, I recorded this song because I wanted to claim it as my own. A few people had heard it when she performed it at the Royal Albert Hall, and I just felt that, really, it was a gift to me. When I recorded it, just soon after she died, it was really in a state of disbelief where I thought that if I sang it like her, if I closed my eyes and sang it well enough, that maybe when I opened them she would reappear.”

Click here to listen to the entire interview. 

You can also watch Martha Wainwright performing the song in this video created by filmmaker Matthu Placek.  This single-take film, explains the director, was inspired by the premise of “Proserpina,” a recounting of the story of the “creation of the seasons by the Roman goddess Ceres, who withholds the world’s bounty for six months every year in protest about her daughter’s abduction by Pluto, lord of the underworld.”

To purchase Martha’s newest album, click here. 




  1. […] Anna McGarrigle “Walking Song.” A few weeks ago on the Monday Music series we featured Martha Wainwright’s recent recording of “Proserpina.”This week we’re featuring her mother and aunt, the famous McGarrigle sisters from their 1977 […]