Born in 1974 to singer Loudon Wainwright III and Katie McGarrigle, his parents divorced when he was only a child. He was raised in Montreal, Canada by his mother, and accompanied her when she toured with her sister, Anna McGarrigle.
At age six, Rufus began playing the piano himself. As a teenager, he wrote several songs for Canadian film soundtracks, as well as performing with his
mother's group. He studied music formally for awhile, but preferred to gain real-world experience by playing in small clubs along the East Coast.
Wainwright is a critically acclaimed musician. The New York Times declared him to be "one of the most whimsical and original young singer-songwriters to come around in years" (Apr. 3, 1998). According to the Village Voice, he is "a literate lyricist and gifted melodist and an
irrepressible font of wisecrack and dish" (Jul. 14, 1998). Wainwright has also received the 1999 Juno Award for Best Alternative Album for his self-titled debut album. "Rolling Stone" named him Best New Artist of 1998.
Discography (through 2004)
Wainwright also contributed a cover of a Beatles song, "Across the Universe," to the "I Am Sam" soundtrack and "Hallelujah" to the "Shrek" soundtrack.
Wainwright's sophomore album, Poses, is described as "ranging from poignant illustrations of reckless self-indulgence," as seen in songs such as
"Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk" and "Poses," "to sometimes jaundiced observations of urban mythology," such as "California." Poses is
described as being emotionally darker than his 1998 debut.
Wainwright is also notable for being an openly gay musician, though he notes, "I really fall for straight guys... I almost like it more." Poses was partly inspired by a failed three-year relationship with a drug-addled "straight" man, and Wainwright's distinctive sound and style are definitely influenced by his past "bad boy" habits.
The self-titled debut album from the Canadian singer-songwriter.