Anne Murray

For almost as long as there has been a viable music industry in Canada, there has been Anne Murray. She was arguably the country's first popular musical artist whose fame transcended the nation's borders. Her tremendous success paved the way for future female Canadian performers like k.d. lang, Celine Dion, Shania Twain, and Alanis Morissette. Morna Anne Murray was born on June 20th, 1945 in the small coal-mining town of Springhill, Nova Scotia. Her father, James Carson Murray, was a physician and her mother Marion was a registered nurse who chose to focus her life on raising her family. Anne learned her characteristic determination and perseverance from them, and growing up surrounded by five brothers, David, Daniel, Harold, Stewart and Bruce. Like most teenagers, Anne loved music. It was the age of Rock 'n' Roll, and she'd sing along with favorites like Buddy Holly, Bobby Darin and Connie Francis. But unlike most others her own age, Anne's exposure to music extended far beyond Rock, to a wide variety of other music styles, including the classics, Country, Gospel, Folk, even her parents', Patti Page, Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney albums. She loved them all.

. Anne studied piano for six years, and at 15 began taking classical voice lessons. Every Saturday morning for two years, Anne would get on a bus and ride for two hours to her lesson. Then she'd visit with her grandparents until it was time to take the two-hour trip back home. Her mother recalls "I think it was grade 11, at her graduation that she sang 'Ava Maria'. Anne noticed people were crying in the audience. That's when she knew that her voice must be good." After finishing high school, Anne spent a year at Mt. Saint Vincent, a Catholic women's college in Halifax, then entered the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton to study Physical Education. Her studies didn't diminished her passion for music, and in her second year at university her friends managed to convince her to audition for Singalong Jubilee, a popular Canadian Summer television show shot in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Anne didn't get the job since there were already enough altos in the cast, but she did make an impression. Two years later, co-host and associate producer Bill Langstroth tracked her down and asked her to appear on the show. She did, and at the end of the Summer, she began teaching high school phys-ed in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. But her first year of teaching also became her last when she was offered a spot on a television show called Let's Go. She decided to give show business a try.

Anne soon became a popular fixture on Singalong Jubilee, and even recorded an album with the cast from the show. The show's musical director, Brian Ahern, convinced Anne to record her first solo album in 1968. Accepting the offer, Murray recorded and released her debut LP, "What About Me". The record was well-received and popular for an independent album, thereby earning the attention of Capitol Records, whose Canadian division signed her to a long-term contract in 1969. In the Fall of that same year Capitol released "This Is My Way", her first album on the Capitol label. It was this LP that produced her breakthrough hit single, "Snowbird", and the marked first time in history that an American Gold record was awarded to a solo Canadian female.

Following the success of "Snowbird" Anne moved to Los Angeles, where she began to regularly appear on Glen Campbell's syndicated television show. It was a chaotic and exhausting time, and Anne felt she was burning out. She didn't like the Californian lifestyle, and eventually returned to Canada. For a while, it looked like "Snowbird" would be Anne Murray's only big hit, since none of her follow-up singles gained much attention. Her only success was "A Stranger in My Place", which peaked at #1 on the Canadian RPM Country Tracks chart and reached #27 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. A cover of Gordon Lightfoot's "Cotton Jenny" in early 1972 returned her to the higher regions of the Country Top 40, peaking at #11, while its follow-up "Danny's Song", became a Top Ten hit on both the Pop and Country charts in early 1973. Following two minor Country hits, she returned to the Billboard Hot 100 early in 1974 with "Love Song", which peaked at #12, followed by cover of The Beatles' "You Won't See Me", which hit #8. The single was followed by two Top Ten Country hits the chart topping "He Thinks I Still Care" and "Son of a Rotten Gambler". Following those two success, Murray spent a number of years struggling to crack either the Pop or Country Top 40. During this time, she concentrated on raising a family (she married Bill Langstroth and had a son) more than her musical career.

Anne entered her period of greatest commercial success in 1978, as a cover of the Everly Brother's "Walk Right Back" climbed to #4 on the Country charts, followed shortly afterward by "You Need Me", her biggest hit since "Snowbird". The single reached #4 on the Country chart and topped the Billboard Hot 100, going Gold by the end of the year and earning her another Grammy Award. For the next eight years, she had a virtually uninterrupted string of Top Ten Country hits, highlighted by nine number one records: "I Just Fall in Love Again" (1979), "Shadows In The Moonlight" (1979), "Broken Hearted Me" (1979), "Could I Have This Dance" (1980), "Blessed Are the Believers" (1981), "A Little Good News" (1983), "Just Another Woman in Love" (1984), "Nobody Loves Me like You Do" (1984) and "Now And Forever (You and Me)" (1986). Murray prospered during the era of Urban Cowboy, since her music drew as much Pop and Easy Listening as it did from Country.

Murray's sales began to decline in the latter half of the '80s, primarily due to the shifting tastes of the Country audience, who were beginning to seek out harder-edged, new performers. Nevertheless, she maintained a dedicated following during the late '80s and '90s through her occasional recordings and her concerts. "Feed This Fire" became a surprise Top Ten Country hit in the summer of 1990. In her career, Anne stacked up a mountain of awards, including four Grammys, three American Music Awards, three Country Music Association Awards, three Canadian Country Music Association Awards, 25 Juno Awards, and an induction into the Juno Hall of Fame in 1993. Anne is a Companion of the Order of Canada, the highest honor that can be awarded to a Canadian civilian. She was the first inductee into the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' Hall of Fame. She has her own star at Hollywood and Vine, and on Canada's Walk Of Fame on King Street in Toronto, and has been inducted into Nashville's Walkway of Stars. With all this success, Anne wanted to give something back to her community. So when her hometown of Springhill needed to boost the local economy after the coal mines closed, Anne was happy to support their effort to foster tourism, and to lend her name and memorabilia to the Anne Murray Centre, which opened in 1989. Brimming with hundreds of photographs, awards and memorabilia representing a lifetime of achievement, the Centre traced Anne's life from her early years in the tiny coal-mining community to her stature as a world-acclaimed vocalist.

In 1997, Anne was inducted into the Canadian Association of Broadcaster's Hall of Fame. In 1999, she finished work on her 31st CD, "What a Wonderful World", a double album of inspirational songs which includes a duet with her 20-year-old daughter Dawn. That effort went to #1 on Billboard's Contemporary Christian chart, #4 on the Country chart and #38 on the Pop chart. "Country Croonin'" was released in 2002 and two years later came "I'll Be Seeing You", a Canada only release featuring a collection of songs from the early 20th century through to the mid-1940s. The American version, titled "All of Me", featuring a bonus CD containing many of her hit singles, came out in 2005. In 2006, Anne became a recipient of Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame Legacy Award for her contributions to and support of the Canadian songwriting industry. On June 29th, 2007, Canada Post issued the limited edition Anne Murray stamp, along with three other Canadian recording legends: Gordon Lightfoot, Paul Anka and Joni Mitchell.

Anne's final studio album, "Anne Murray Duets: Friends & Legends", was issued in November 2007. The CD was comprised of duets with CĂ©line Dion, Shania Twain, k.d. lang, Nelly Furtado, Jann Arden, Olivia Newton-John, Emmylou Harris, Martina McBride, Shelby Lynne, Dusty Springfield and Anne's daughter Dawn Langstroth. It was an immediate success, reaching #38 on Billboard's Hot 200 chart, #8 on the Country chart and #2 on the Canadian Pop album chart. It was also nominated for a 2008 Juno Award for Album of the Year and Pop Album of the Year.

On October 10th, 2007, Anne Murray announced that she was retiring from touring and set out on the Coast-to-Coast, One Last Time tour in February of '08. Her final show was held at the Sony Centre in Toronto on May 23rd, 2008. She did appear however on the popular TV program Canadian Idol as a mentor on August 25th, '08. Her next major project was writing her autobiography, All Of Me, which hit store shelves on October 27th, 2009. It went straight to Canada's best sellers list and was supported by a fifteen city book signing tour, starting in Nashville and ending in Ottawa on November 24th, 2009. On February 12th, 2010, Anne was one of the eight Canadians who carried the Olympic flag during the opening ceremonies of the XXI Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.

Although she has retired from singing, Anne made several personal appearances on Canadian TV and radio programs throughout 2011 and continued her support of Colon Cancer Canada and the Canadian Women's Foundation. Another in a long list of honors came her way in 2011 when Billboard ranked Anne Murray at #10 on their list of the 50 Biggest Adult Contemporary Artists of all time.