Martha Wainwright: Proserpina

The Illustrious Singer-Songwriter Debuts a Haunting Cover of Her Mother’s Last Song

Martha Wainwright’s soaring yet delicate harmonies take center stage in her performance of elegy “Proserpina,” written by her late mother, the legendary folk singer Kate McGarrigle, in filmmaker Matthu Placek’s intimate video. Taken from her forthcoming album Come Home to Mama, the track was recorded in Sean Lennon’s New York home studio and continues a lifelong musical dialogue between Wainwright and McGarrigle, who passed away in 2010. “It’s the last song my mother wrote, and of course I also think that she wrote it for me, and for Rufus,” explains Wainwright, referring to her critically acclaimed crooner brother, Rufus Wainwright. “We wrote songs together, ever since we were children. As we sing her songs, I think her voice can be heard in ours, literally through our pipes.”  Placek's single-take film was inspired by the premise of “Proserpina,” which recounts 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. “It’s all about Martha's performance,” says the director, who has also produced music videos for Trixie Whitley and Hannah Cohen. “Martha’s vocal range is insane, it’s outrageous—I’ve never seen anyone like her.”

Martha Wainwright's fourth album Come Home to Mama is released October 16, "Proserpina" is out on iTunes on Monday, September 3. See a video documenting the making of "Proserpina" on our Facebook page here.

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Conversations (4)

  • Olivia Stone
    The idea of the music video looks uncomfortably similar to Janelle Monae's "Cold War"
    • Posted By Olivia Stone
    • August 31, 2012 at 9:27PM
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  • dVb
    Outstanding. The history, meaning and talent in this family is insane. I ache when I watch this and I've watched it too many times in 24 hours!
    • Posted By dVb
    • August 31, 2012 at 6:33PM
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  • Composeretta
    Sweet music, lyrics and signing to a tragic mythologoical story!
    • Posted By Composeretta
    • August 31, 2012 at 1:12PM
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  • victorjimenez
    Really beautiful, my tears arose
    • Posted By victorjimenez
    • August 30, 2012 at 6:48AM
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