(Morna) Anne Murray. Singer, b Springhill, NS, 20 Jun 1945; B PHYS ED (New Brunswick) 1966, honorary LL D (New Brunswick) 1978, honorary D LITT (St Mary's) 1982.
As a child Anne Murray studied piano for six years; at 15 she began three years of voice lessons with Karen Mills in Tatamagouche, NS. Although she made numerous television appearances in New Brunswick in her teens, she continued her university education after failing to win a spot on CBC-TV's Singalong Jubilee in 1965. When producer Bill Langstroth called her back to join the show's chorus a year later, she was teaching physical education at a Summerside, PEI, high school.
Murray made her solo recording debut in 1968; in 1969 Capitol Records released her first hit, "Snowbird." Her US break came in 1970, when she joined singer-guitarist Glen Campbell on his popular TV show. Numerous hits followed for Murray, including a cover of Gordon Lightfoot's "Cotton Jenny" (1972). In 1975, Murray married Langstroth and entered a period of musical inactivity, during which she had the first of two children. She returned to the spotlight in 1978 with a recording of "Walk Right Back," which began a string of high-charting releases stretching into 1986. Foreshadowing the careers of k.d. lang and Shania Twain, Murray easily spanned both the pop and country charts.
Seeking stability for her children, Murray undertook long-term engagements in Las Vegas, alternating with concerts in venues such as Carnegie Hall and Toronto's O'Keefe Centre. Her popularity began to wane in the late 1980s, despite a solid fan base. In 1995, Murray suffered the death of her manager, Leonard Rambeau. Her spirits revived with a 1996 duet with Bryan Adams on "What Would It Take," and a new business relationship with Adams's manager, Bruce Allen; she settled back into a pattern of high-profile performances and recordings at intervals of one or two years.
Murray's debut solo album, What About Me? (1968), was firmly in the folk idiom, featuring simple guitar-oriented arrangements and compositions by Joni Mitchell and Tom Paxton. Producer Brian Ahern encouraged her move to a larger label with US distribution, and her second album, This Way Is My Way (1969), was released on Capitol Records, containing Gene MacLellan's "Snowbird." Released as the B side of a single, "Snowbird" was certified a gold record in the US in 1970 for selling more than one million copies. In 1971, Murray teamed with Glen Campbell for an album of duets, Anne Murray/Glen Campbell, which produced the hit medley "By The Time I Get To Phoenix"/ "I Say A Little Prayer."
Although the 1970s were dominated by album-oriented artists, Murray remained largely a singles artist, becoming best known for her interpretations of songs by composers like Kenny Loggins ("Danny's Song"), Lennon and McCartney ("You Won't See Me") and Randy Goodrum ("You Needed Me"). This trend continued into the 1980s, with Murray topping the pop and country charts with singles like "Could I Have This Dance?" (1980), "A Little Good News" (1983), and "Now And Forever" (1986), while her album output was dominated by hits compilations and Christmas recordings. In 1994, Capitol released Now & Forever, a comprehensive three-CD collection. In 1996, the label released Anne Murray, the singer's 30th album. The album moved Murray away from country-tinged ballads to contemporary pop, featuring duets with Aaron Neville and Bryan Adams. A live recording followed in 1998, and in 2005 an album of standards, I'll Be Seeing You, helped re-establish Murray as one of the leading voices in adult contemporary music. Overall, Murray scored 11 number one hits on the country charts, while 25 of her albums sold more than 500,000 copies in the US. In 2005, her worldwide sales amounted to about 50 million units, including approximately 5.9 million in Canada.
More than perhaps any other Canadian performer in the pre-video era, Murray's success was a product of television. Seasoned by regional appearances in her teens, she moved easily into the limelight on national broadcasts beginning on her 21st birthday, and quickly established herself as a fan favourite with her solo spots on Singalong Jubilee until 1970, and Let's Go, CBC Halifax's pop music show, 1967-8. On 4 Oct 1970, she made her US national debut on The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, on which she was a frequent guest until 1974. On 23 Oct 1970, CBC aired the first of many Anne Murray specials. Throughout the 1970s, Murray was a frequent guest on Canadian and US variety shows and other telecasts. Her 1988 Christmas special for the CBC attracted 4.2 million viewers and was also popular in reruns. In 2005, CBC broadcast a career retrospective, featuring commentary by Murray and highlights from many of her television appearances.
Awards and Recognition
Murray received her first Grammy award in 1974 for best female country vocal performance and has won three other Grammys, along with three American Music Awards, three Country Music Association awards and 31 Juno awards. She was inducted into the Juno Hall of Fame and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1993, and into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 2002. She was awarded the East Coast Music Association Directors' Special Achievement Award in 2001, and the Legacy Award from the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006. In 1980, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and in 1998 was among the inaugural group awarded a place on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto. She was named an officer of the Order of Canada in 1975, and elevated to the rank of companion in 1984. In 2002, she received the Order of Nova Scotia.
The first Canadian woman to establish herself as a commercial force on the US pop and country music charts, Murray paved the way for a younger generation of singers and cemented her iconic status in the Canadian entertainment business. Her success was the result of a combination of intelligent song selection, her attractively husky alto voice, and wholesome good looks.
What About Me? 1968. Arc AS-782
This Way Is My Way. 1969. Cap ST-6330
Honey, Wheat and Laughter. (1970). Cap ST-6350
Snowbird. (1970). Cap 579 (combined songs from ST-6330 and ST-6350 for US release)
Straight, Clean and Simple. 1970. Cap ST-6359
Talk It Over in the Morning. 1971. Cap ST-6366
Anne Murray/Glen Campbell. 1971. Cap SW-869
Annie. (1972). Cap ST-6376
Danny's Song. (1973). Cap ST-6393
A Love Song. (1974). Cap ST-6409
Country. (1974). Cap ST-6425 (compilation)
Highly Prized Possession. 1974. Cap ST-6428
Together. (1975) Cap ST-6425
Keeping in Touch. 1976. Cap ST-11559
There's a Hippo in My Tub. (1978). Cap ST-6454
Let's Keep It That Way. 1978. Cap ST-11743
New Kind of Feeling. (1978). Cap SW-11849
I'll Always Love You. (1979). Cap SOO-12012
A Country Collection. (1980). Cap ST-12039 (compilation)
Somebody's Waiting. (1980). Cap SOO-12064
Greatest Hits. (1980). Cap SOO-12110 (compilation)
Where Do You Go When You Dream. (1981). Cap SOO-12144
Christmas Wishes. (1981). Cap SB-16232
The Hottest Night of the Year. (1982). Cap ST-12225
A Little Good News. (1983). Cap ST-12301
Heart Over Mind. (1984). Cap SJ-12363
Something to Talk About. (1986). Cap SJ-12466
Harmony. (1987). Cap ST-12562
Country Hits. (1987). Cap CDP7-46487 (compilation)
Songs of the Heart. (1987). Cap CDP7-46488 (compilation)
As I Am. (1988). Cap C1-48764
Anne Murray Christmas. (1988). Cap C1-90886
Greatest Hits Vol II. (1989). Cap C2-92072 (compilation)
You Will. (1990). Cap C-94102 (CD and cass)
Yes I Do. (1991). Cap C-96310 (CD and cass)
Conn Hughes, Barry. 'Will Anne Murray spoil success?' Canadian Magazine, 25 Jul 1970
Howell, Bill. 'Upper Canada romantic,' Maclean's, May 1972
Windeler, Robert. 'Introducing Anne Murray,' Stereo Review, vol 28, Jun 1972
LeBlanc, Larry. 'The flip side of Anne Murray,' Maclean's, Nov 1974
Doig, John. 'The other Murray,' The Canadian, 18 Jun 1979
King, Paul. 'Jackpot: Anne Murray is the best bet in Las Vegas,' (Toronto Star) Today, 26 Apr 1980
Livingstone, David. 'The prime of Ms. Anne Murray,' Maclean's, 20 Oct 1980
- Anne Murray: The Story So Far (New York 1981)
Lacey, Liam. 'Under fire, Annie gets her gun,' Toronto Globe and Mail, 30 Apr 1983
Goddard, Peter. 'You can call her Anne but never call her Miss,' Toronto Star, 11 Apr 1985
Nicholson, Lee Anne. 'Memories are made of this,' TV Guide, 30 Sep 1989
"Snowbirdie: Anne Murray: From concert hall to clubhouse," Elm Street, May-June 1997
Saxberg, Lynn. "Anne Murray's back on the job," Ottawa Citizen, 16 Dec 2000
Quill, Greg. "Songbird out on a limb," Toronto Star, 20 Oct 2002
Contemporary Canadian Musicians (Toronto 1997)
Roland, Tom. "Anne Murray," AMG All Music Guide (available on-line)