Born: July 22, 1973 Primary Instrument: Vocal
Rufus Wainwright is a Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter, was born into a family of musical pedigree: his mother is Kate McGarrigle and his father is Loudon Wainwright III. His sister, Martha Wainwright is also a musician, as is his half-sister Lucy Wainwright Roche and his aunt, Sloan Wainwright.
Rufus was born in New York but moved to Canada when his parents divorced. He was aged three at that time. He attended Millbrook School as well as studying piano at Concordia and Mc Gill Universities.
As a child, Rufus Wainwright would play piano in 'The McGarrigle Sisters and Family' band, mainly playing folk music. At the age of 14, he played his song 'I'm a-Runnin' in the film Tommy Tricker and the Stamp Traveller. He won a Genie Award for Best Original Song.
Wainwright began playing weekly shows at Café Sarajevo and produced a demo tape that was passed in to Van Dyke Parks. Parks then passed the tapes onto the head of DreamWorks, Lenny Waronker, who signed Wainwright to the label.
In 1996, he moved to New York City and recorded his debut album, Rufus Wainwright, released in 1998. To promote the release of the album, he toured with Sean Lennon, the son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
Wainwright wrote the majority of his second album whilst he lived in the Chelsea Hotel for six months. Poses was released in 2001 and he toured with Tori Amos, Ben Folds and Sting to promote the album.
Wainwright's career was briefly de-railed in the early 2000's when his addiction to crystal meth became destructive. Following a fortnight of debauchery involving Marianne Faithfull, Barbara Bush and Antony Hegarty, Wainwright concentrated on getting clean, with the help of his friend, Elton John.
The album Want Two was released as a sequel to 2003's Want One and was followed by a live iTunes Sessions EP named Alright, Already: Live in Montreal. In 2005, Wainwright released a DVD entitled All I Want. Later that year, he also contributed vocals to Antony and the Johnsons' I am A Bird Now and Burt Bacharach's At This Time. The two Want albums were repackaged as a single release, featuring a cover of Leonard Cohen's 'Chelsea Hotel No.2'.
2006 saw Rufus Wainwright perform the entirety of Judy Garland's Carnegie Hall concert, at Carnegie Hall. Judy Garland's daughter, Lorna Luft has expressed her approval of the performance.
In 2007, Rufus Wainwright released his fifth studio album, Release the Stars. The album featured Richard Thompson and Teddy Thompson as well as his mother, his sister Martha, Joan Wasser (of Joan as Policewoman) and Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys.
Later that year, Rufus was chosen to perform on the True Colours Tour, with Cyndi Lauper, Dresden Dolls, The Gossip, Debbie Harry and Erasure.
Wainwright then concentrated on his next project; writing an opera entitled Prima Donna, which is about a day in the life of an opera singer, who is waiting for her comeback performance and falls in love with a journalist. The project was originally commissioned by Peter Gelb, the manager of the Metropolitan Opera. However, Wainwright insisted on writing the libretto in French, which became a factor for dispute and they went their separate ways. The opera instead opened at the Manchester International Festival.
Rufus Wainwright has appeared in and written music for a number of films. He appeared in The Aviator, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as well as Heights, with Glenn Close and Isabella Rosselini. He has also recorded tracks for the soundtrack of Brokeback Mountain (starring the late Heath Ledger), Moulin Rouge! (starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor) and Zoolander (featuring Ben Stiller).
Want One (2003)
Want Two (2004)
Release the Stars (2007)
Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall (2007)
Milwaukee at Last!!! (2009)
All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu (2010)
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