Morna Anne Murray (born June 20, 1945), known professionally as Anne Murray, is a Canadian singer in pop, country, and adult contemporary music whose albums have sold over 54 million copies worldwide as of 2012.
Murray was the first Canadian female solo singer to reach No. 1 on the U.S. charts, and also the first to earn a Gold record for one of her signature songs, “Snowbird” (1970). She is often cited as the one who paved the way for other international Canadian success stories such as Alanis Morissette, Nelly Furtado, Céline Dion, Sarah McLachlan, and Shania Twain. She is also the first woman and the first Canadian to win “Album of the Year” at the 1984 Country Music Association Awards for her 1983 album A Little Good News.
Murray has received four Grammys, a record 24 Junos, three American Music Awards, three Country Music Association Awards, and three Canadian Country Music Association Awards. She has been inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, the Juno Hall of Fame, and The Songwriters Hall of Fame. She is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame Walkway of Stars in Nashville, and has her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles and on Canada’s Walk of Fame in Toronto.
In 2011, Billboard ranked her 10th on their list of the 50 Biggest AC Artists Ever.
Morna Anne Murray was born in the coal-mining town of Springhill, Nova Scotia. Her father, James Carson Murray, was the town doctor. Her mother, Marion Margaret (née Burke) Murray, was a registered nurse who focused her life on raising her family and community charity work. Murray has five brothers. Murray’s father died in 1980 at the age of 72 from complications from leukemia. Her mother died April 10, 2006, at the age of 92 after suffering a series of strokes during heart surgery.
After expressing an early interest in music, she studied piano for six years. By 15 she was taking voice lessons. Every Saturday morning, she took a bus ride from Springhill to Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, for singing lessons. One of her earliest performances was of the song “Ave Maria” at her high school graduation in 1962. Following high school, Murray attended Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax for one year. She later studied Physical Education at University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. After receiving her degree in 1966 she taught physical education at a high school in Summerside, Prince Edward Island, for one year.
In 1965, Murray appeared on the University of New Brunswick student project record “The Groove” (500 pressed). She sang two songs on the record – “Unchained Melody” and “Little Bit of Soap”. On the label her name was misspelled “Anne Murry”. While there, she was encouraged to audition for the 1960s CBC musical variety television show Singalong Jubilee, but was not offered a singing position. Two years later she received a call from Singalong Jubilee co-host and associate producer, Bill Langstroth, and was asked to return for a second audition. Following that second audition, Murray was cast for the show.
After a summer of singing in local venues across the Maritimes, Murray began teaching physical education at a high school in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. After one year of teaching, she was offered a spot on the television show Let’s Go, and returned to Singalong Jubilee. As a regular member of the “Singalong Jubilee” cast, Murray appeared on the Singalong Jubilee Vol. III soundtrack and Our Family Album – The Singalong Jubilee Cast records released by Arc Records. The show’s musical director, Brian Ahern, advised Murray that she should move to Toronto and record a solo album. Her first album, What About Me, was produced by Ahern in Toronto and released in 1968 on the Arc label.
Anne Murray’s debut album was on the Canadian Arc label, titled What About Me (Arc AS 782). The lead single, the title cut, was written by Scott McKenzie and was a sizable Canadian radio hit. The project was produced by Brian Ahern, and covered songs by Joni Mitchell, Ken Tobias, and John Denver. After a year-long stint on Arc, Murray switched to Capitol Records in 1969 to record her second album, This Way Is My Way, which was released in the fall of 1969. It featured the single that launched her career, “Snowbird”, which became a No. 1 hit in Canada. “Snowbird” became a surprise hit on the U.S. charts as well, reaching No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1970. It was also the first of her eight No. 1 Adult Contemporary hits. “Snowbird” was the first Gold record ever given to a Canadian artist in the United States (RIAA certified Gold on November 16, 1970). As one of the most successful female artists at that time, she became in demand for several television appearances in Canada and the United States, eventually becoming a regular on the hit U.S. TV series The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.
After the success of “Snowbird”, she had a number of subsequent singles that charted both pop and country simultaneously. During the 1970s and 80s, her hits included Kenny Loggins’s “Danny’s Song” (1972) (peaked at No. 7 on the Hot 100) and “A Love Song” (1973); “He Thinks I Still Care” and her Top 10 cover of The Beatles’ “You Won’t See Me” (1974); her all-time biggest Hot 100 hit “You Needed Me” (1978) — though, the biggest hit of her career (and her personal favorite) peaked at No. 4 country and No. 3 AC; “I Just Fall in Love Again”, “Shadows in the Moonlight”, and “Broken Hearted Me” (1979); her revival of The Monkees’ 1967 No. 1 hit “Daydream Believer” and “Could I Have This Dance” from the Urban Cowboy motion picture soundtrack (1980); “Blessed Are the Believers” (1981); “Another Sleepless Night” (1982); “A Little Good News” (1983); 1984’s “Just Another Woman in Love” and “Nobody Loves Me Like You Do” (a duet with Dave Loggins of 1974’s “Please Come to Boston” fame and cousin of Kenny Loggins); and “Time, Don’t Run Out On Me” (1985).
She performed “O Canada” at the first American League baseball game played in Canada on April 7, 1977, when the Toronto Blue Jays played the Chicago White Sox at Exhibition Stadium. She reprised the Canadian national anthem prior to Game 3 of the 1992 World Series at the SkyDome. Following the last game at Maple Leaf Gardens, she concluded the arena’s closing ceremony by singing “The Maple Leaf Forever” at center ice wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey.
Murray was a celebrity corporate spokeswoman for The Bay, and she also did commercials and sang the company jingle (“You Can Count on the Commerce”) for the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC).
Murray’s last Hot 100 hit was “Now and Forever (You and Me)” from 1986; it also was her last No. 1 on both the American and Canadian country chart. Her last charting single in the U.S. was 1991’s “Everyday”, which appeared in Billboard’s Country Singles chart, and her last charting single in Canada was 2000’s “What a Wonderful World”.
1990s to present
In 1996, Murray signed on with a new manager, Bruce Allen, who also has managed careers for Bryan Adams, Michael Bublé, Martina McBride, and Jann Arden. She recorded her first live album in 1997 and in 1999, she released What a Wonderful World, a platinum inspirational album, which went to No. 1 Contemporary Christian, No. 4 Country and No. 38 pop. She released Country Croonin’ in 2002, the follow-up to her successful 1993 album, Croonin’. In 2004, she released I’ll Be Seeing You in Canada only, which features a collection of songs from the early 20th century through to the mid-1940s. The American version, titled All of Me, features a bonus disc containing many of her hit singles, followed in 2005. The album is dedicated to her friend Cynthia McReynolds who died of cancer.
On December 26, 2004, Murray joined other Canadian music stars in the Canada for Asia Telethon, a three-hour, tsunami relief concert broadcast on CBC Television (January 13, 2005) to support CARE Canada’s efforts. Bryan Adams and Murray closed the show with a duet, “What Would It Take”.
Anne Murray Duets: Friends & Legends was released in November 2007 in Canada and January 2008 in the U.S. The album comprised seventeen tracks that included many of Murray’s biggest hits over her four-decade career, re-recorded as duets with other established, rising, and – in one case – deceased female singers. These artists included Céline Dion, Shania Twain, k.d. lang, Nelly Furtado, Jann Arden, Québec’s Isabelle Boulay, Murray’s daughter Dawn Langstroth, Olivia Newton-John, Emmylou Harris, Martina McBride, Shelby Lynne, Amy Grant, Carole King, the Indigo Girls, Irish sextet Celtic Woman, Dusty Springfield, and Sarah Brightman. The duet with soprano Brightman was of her 1970 hit song, “Snowbird”.
Anne Murray Duets: Friends and Legends was recorded in four cities – Toronto, Nashville, New York and Los Angeles. According to Billboard magazine, the album reached No. 2 on the Canadian pop album charts and was certified Double Platinum in Canada after merely two months, representing sales of over 200,000 units. The album was the second-highest debuting CD on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart for the week ending February 2, 2008. It entered the chart at No. 42, making it her highest-charting U.S. CD release since 1999’s What a Wonderful World, which peaked at No. 38 on the Top 200 and was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Also for the week ending February 2, 2008, the CD debuted at No. 8 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart and at No. 3 on its Top Internet Albums chart. Murray was nominated for the 2008 Juno Award for Album of the Year and Pop Album of the Year.
Murray’s album What a Wonderful World was re-released in July 2008 in North America as a 14-song package. A new Christmas album, titled Anne Murray’s Christmas Album with bonus DVD was released in October 2008. Sony BMG Music also released an Elvis Presley Christmas album, titled Elvis Presley Christmas Duets, on October 14, 2008 featuring a virtual duet of “Silver Bells” with Murray.
On October 10, 2007, Murray announced that she would embark on her final major tour. She toured in February and March 2008 in the U.S., followed by the “Coast-to-Coast – One Last Time” tour in April and May in Canada. Murray’s final public concert was held at the Sony Centre in Toronto on May 23, 2008.
On August 25, 2008 Murray appeared on the popular TV program Canadian Idol as a mentor. On February 12, 2010, Murray was one of the eight Canadians who carried the Olympic flag during the opening ceremonies of the XXI Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
Murray has had five highly rated US specials on CBS (over 40 million viewers each) and several Canadian specials on CBC including Anne Murray in Nova Scotia, Intimate Evening with Anne Murray, Anne Murray RSVP, A Special Anne Murray Christmas, Legends & Friends, Greatest Hits II, What A Wonderful World, Ladies Night Show, Anne Murray in Walt Disney World and Anne Murray’s Classic Christmas. Her 2008 television special, Family Christmas, garnered a 43 per cent share on CBC with 4.2 million viewers.
She has appeared on Solid Gold, Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Dean Martin Summer Show, Singalong Jubilee, Dinah!, The Today Show, Dolly!, The Mike Douglas Show, Christmas in Washington, Boston Pops, The Helen Reddy Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, 20/20, CNN, Perry Como’s Christmas in New Mexico, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, Night of a 100 Stars, Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, The Pat Sajak Show, Royal Canadian Air Farce and Good Morning America. Her 2005 CBC special Anne Murray: The Music of My Life broke ratings records for a Thursday night, with more than 7 million Canadian viewers tuned in.
In 2009, Murray released her autobiography, All of Me, and embarked on a 15-city book signing tour, starting in Nashville on October 27, 2009 and ending in Ottawa on November 24, 2009. The tour also included a special In Conversation interview with Michael Posner at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto on October 30, 2009.
Marriage and children
Murray married music producer Bill Langstroth in 1975. They have two children – William (born 1976) and Dawn (born 1979), a singer/songwriter and artist who has recorded with her mother a number of times, including the duet “Let There Be Love” in 1999 for Murray’s What a Wonderful World album. Murray and Dawn were featured in a mother-daughter duet of “Nobody Loves Me Like You Do” on Murray’s hit 2008 U.S. CD (released in late 2007 in Canada), Anne Murray Duets: Friends & Legends. Murray and Langstroth separated in 1997 and divorced the following year. Langstroth died in May 2013.
In January 1998, Murray and her daughter Dawn performed at a benefit concert for Sheena’s Place, an eating disorder treatment center in Toronto. Murray and her daughter have spoken publicly about Dawn’s struggle with anorexia nervosa, which developed when Dawn was 10 years old. Dawn has since sought treatment and continues to pursue a career in music.
Murray has always kept ties with her hometown, Springhill, Nova Scotia, located about an hour south of Moncton, New Brunswick, and two hours north of Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Anne Murray Centre, located in Springhill, houses a collection of memorabilia from both her personal life and professional career in a series of displays. The Anne Murray Centre, which opened on July 28, 1989, is a registered Canadian charity. As a non-profit association, all the revenue generated from its operation is used to provide employment for local people and for its ongoing maintenance. The Anne Murray Centre aims to foster tourism in the area and promote awareness of the music of Nova Scotia and Canada.
Murray was involved in the construction of the Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Community Centre in Springhill, Nova Scotia. She served as the honorary chair of the fundraising campaign to replace the town arena that collapsed after a peewee hockey game in 2002. Named for her parents, the Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Community Centre sports an NHL-size ice sheet with seating for 800 people, a walking track, multi-purpose room, community room with seating for up to 300, and a gym. The Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Community Centre has become an integral part of the Springhill community since opening on September 15, 2004.
Murray has also been involved in a variety of charitable organizations. In addition to being the Honorary National Chairperson of the Canadian Save The Children Fund, she has served as a spokeswoman for many charities throughout her career – most recently Colon Cancer Canada. On May 20, 2009, Colon Cancer Canada launched the inaugural Anne Murray Charity Golf Classic. Over $150,000 was raised through the event.
Murray has been a public supporter of Canadian environmentalist and geneticist David Suzuki’s Nature Challenge.
A longtime golf enthusiast, Murray made history in October 2003 at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York, by becoming the first woman to score a hole-in-one on the 108-yard, par 3, 17th hole at the Kaluhyat Golf Club. On May 11, 2007, Golf For Women magazine named Murray the world’s best female celebrity golfer, noting her 11 handicap.
Since 1968, Murray has had 32 studio albums (15 of which have gone multi-platinum, platinum, or gold in the U.S.) and 15 compilation albums.
Awards and honours
Anne Murray is the winner of four Grammys (including one in the pop category), three American Music Awards, three CMA Awards, and a record 24 Juno Awards.
Murray was ranked No. 24 in Country Music Television’s 40 Greatest Women of Country Music in 2002.
Murray is a Companion of the Order of Canada, the second highest honor that can be awarded to a Canadian civilian. She was a recipient of the Order of Nova Scotia in its inaugural year.
In 2006, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame chose her and Leonard Cohen as recipients of the Legacy Award for their contributions to and support of the Canadian songwriting industry. Murray was recognized for her support of Canada’s songwriters, through her performances and her recordings.
On June 29, 2007, Canada Post issued the limited edition Anne Murray stamp. She was recognized along with three other Canadian recording artists: Paul Anka, Gordon Lightfoot, and Joni Mitchell.
In popular culture
On February 17, 2013, Family Guy devoted the “Chris Cross” episode to Murray. In the episode, Stewie and Brian become obsessed with Murray’s music. Murray also appears in animated form contributing her voice. She is also named prominently in the song Blame Canada from the movie South Park.