But Martha Wainwright is no ordinary famous person.
The 37-year-old singer-songwriter makes her home in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy — shunning the prospect of a Manhattan shoebox in favor of owning an expansive building in this up-and-coming neighborhood.
As the daughter of folk legends Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle, and sister to fellow artist Rufus Wainwright, this Brooklynite has plenty to offer her borough, including an upcoming benefit concert at the Brooklyn Academy of Music with her brother, Norah Jones, Emmylou Harris and Mark Ronson, among others.
The June 25 and 26 shows, “Kate’s Kids” as they’re known, are remembrances of Wainwright’s late mother and coincide with the release of the documentary and live album “Sing Me the Songs That Say I Love You: A Concert for Kate McGarrigle.” Proceeds from the shows go to the Kate McGarrigle Fund, which is dedicated to raising awareness of sarcoma, a rare cancer from which she suffered.
Wainwright spoke to DNAinfo New York about the upcoming shows and her beloved neighborhood.
Q: How did this concert, dedicated to your mother, Kate McGarrigle, come together?
A: It’s a celebration of her music and who she was as a person and as an artist. We’ve done these tribute concerts over the last three years, and what Rufus and I really wanted to do with this one is sort of move into another era and move away from just looking at Kate in this sort of sad, celebratory lens and sort of move into another forward action.
Q. Why do it at BAM?
A: Rufus has a great relationship with BAM. They put on his opera. They’ve always told him that they would love to do anything that we wanted to do and of course it works out great for me because I live close by. It’s a neighborhood establishment for me and I think it’s a place that we both love and the audience really likes going there, so it just seemed like a no-brainer to work with the people at BAM.
Q: Speaking of living close by, we heard you live in Williamsburg.
A: I live in Bed-Stuy. I was in Williamsburg for 10 years and then Bed-Stuy as of three years ago. I moved there, I bought a brownstone really in quite the heart of it around Marcus Garvey and Greene in Bed-Stuy.
Q: What made you want to move from Williamsburg to Bed-Stuy?
A. My husband and I were going to have a baby and we wanted to buy something. … I grew up in a big house in Montreal and I think when I started looking at the houses in Bed-Stuy, it really reminded me of the house that I grew up in … It would just be a totally different type of living than, say, condo-living or one bedroom New York living. I pushed for it and said, 'Look, let’s do this.' I think it’s fun. You know, I always like to stand out. I didn’t want to be another mom pushing a pram in Park Slope, although some days I wish I were. That was just sort of me being adversary. We looked at a lot of places and this one seemed beautiful so we went for it.
Q: Bed-Stuy has more and more nightlife and restaurants — which ones are your favorites?
A: The big one for us, which is also very good for kids too, is Saraghina, which is a brick oven pizza restaurant...on Halsey and Lewis. It’s this guy, Kiko, who’s from Italy. They’re from Umbria, and everyone that works there is from Italy. They’re all gorgeous hipsters. He’s also opened another restaurant around the corner called Celestino, which is more of a fish restaurant, so they’re completely European and speak in accents. With my cousin, I went one night to Do or Dine. The food was really good.
Q: What do you do for takeout?
A: Takeout’s harder. On Seamless, we end up getting a lot of Indian restaurants, which is kind of great. I guess maybe as you go closer to Fulton, maybe there’s an enclave. We do a lot of Indian takeout there, which is good.
Q: Where do you like to go for walks in the neighborhood?
A: Well, there’s a park near us, which is a great park. It’s called [Herbert] Von King. It has a cultural center and a band shell, which is super cool and it has a little league field and a dog run and two playgrounds. It’s super-beautiful especially at this time of year, when the flowers are gorgeous. You know, it’s Bed-Stuy. I have to say there’s been some shootings in this park, but you know, we go anyways.
Q: Where do you go for fancy groceries?
A: Well, there’s a very beautiful one called Choice Greene, which is terribly expensive but the quality is definitely there. They have organic vegetables and beautiful bread and beautiful croissant, and then they have a sister store around the corner on Lafayette and Grand called Grand Café or something. They make sandwiches and stuff and the food is really good.
Q: Do your friends come to you or do you go to your friends?
A lot of people come to me because I have a really big kitchen and a backyard and I cook a lot, so it’s a perfect way for family and friends to gather. I’ve brought people out who wouldn’t normally go into the depths of Brooklyn. I think they appreciate it and I certainly do.
Q: How about your brother? Does he come to you?
A: He comes to me a lot on his way to the airport, on his way to JFK. If he’s going to Europe, he’ll come over for three or four hours, he’ll have lunch and then he takes a car from there.