Anne Murray Biography
Anne Murray CC, ONS (born Morna Anne Murray June 20, 1945), is a Canadian singer born in Springhill, Nova Scotia, known for her rich alto voice and her taste in choosing songs that appeal to pop, country and adult contemporary listeners alike. For many, her fame as the representative Canadian singer is rivaled only by Gordon Lightfoot. Unlike many internationally renowned Canadian singers, she has always resided in Canada and now lives in Toronto, but spends most summers in Nova Scotia.
Murray was the first Canadian female solo singer to reach #1 on the US charts, and also the first to earn a gold record (for one of her signature tunes, 1970's "Snowbird"). She is often cited as the woman who paved the way for other Canadian international success stories such as Céline Dion, Sarah McLachlan and Shania Twain. So far, her albums have sold over 54 million copies worldwide. She is the most successful crossover female artist in music history, as well as one of the most successful Christmas artists of all time with her Christmas albums selling in the millions. (In fact her album Christmas Wishes is one of the Top 5 selling female holiday albums in history and her "Greatest Hits" album has sold over 7 million copies worldwide). She is also the first woman (and the first Canadian) to win "Album of the Year" at the Country Music Association Awards (USA) for her 1984 album "A Little Good News".
Anne Murray has had four highly-rated US specials on CBS (over 40 million viewers each), countless Canadian specials on CBC (Anne Murray in Nova Scotia) and 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 Mike Douglas Show, Oprah, 20/20, CNN, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, Live with Regis and Kathie Lee and The Pat Sajak Show. More recently, in the '90s and into the new millennium, she has had several highly successful commercials for her albums (The Very Best of Anne Murray, Croonin', What a Wonderful World, Country Croonin', What a Wonderful Christmas and All of Me) in the United States and Canada, with heavy rotation on Nickelodeon and CNN, among other TV channels. She has hosted the Junos in Canada as well as the CMAs in the United States. Her 2005 CBC special Anne Murray-The Music of my Life broke ratings records for a Thursday night, with more than 1 million Canadian viewers tuned in. The guests on her TV specials have included Julio Iglesias, Patti LaBelle, Celine Dion, Bryan Adams, Dusty Springfield, Bananarama, Barenaked Ladies, Alan Thicke, Roch Voisine, Glen Campbell, Varlerie Harper, Diana Krall, Jann Arden, Miss Piggy and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Anne Murray's music has wide appeal and she is popular with very young children (her commercials were in heavy rotation on cartoon networks and she has a children's album called "There's a Hippo in my Tub" -released twice under the original title and also released under the title "Anne Murray sings for the Sesame Street Generation" in the USA and "Anne Murray Sings for Kids" which was available at McDonald's Restaurants in Canada) ). She has been a consistent favourite of country (11 #1 Billboard songs) and pop fans (several Top Ten Billboard charts including one #1), the older generation, ballroom dancers and newlyweds (especially due to the romantic "Could I Have this Dance"),. She has also made breakthroughs on the Christian music scene ("What a Wonderful World" ,"Robbie's Song for Jesus"). On the other side of the spectrum, Anne Murray had a few dance singles in the mid-eighties(i.e. "Who's Leaving Who") which appealed to a strong gay following. The song was later covered by dance queen Hazell Dean.This caused some backlash with her country fans for a while, especially when she donned an 80's style "punkish" hairdo on the cover of 1986's 750,000 unit selling "Something to Talk About". Anne's music has been pigeonholed (wrongly a lot might say) in the Country category even though she has touched many music styles. Her voice is often compared to that of Karen Carpenter, and country singer Kathy Mattea has had trouble getting over the constant comparison of her voice to Anne's. All said, Anne is best known for her romantic ballads and impeccable phrasing which has made her a staple on both the Easy Listening and Adult Contemporary charts. She is known as "The Lady," and is sometimes referred to as the "Singing Sweetheart of Canada." Her fame has been a boon to her home province of Nova Scotia: the "Anne Murray Centre" is located in Springhill, N.S.
Murray first came to the public eye in Canada as a cast member on the 1960's CBC music/comedy television show Singalong Jubilee. (She would later marry the show's host, Bill Langstroth.) She had a Canadian hit with the song "What About Me," the title track for her first album release. Her later live recording of the song, with a faster arrangement, would become the version heard in America.
Her first hit, "Snowbird" (1970), reached the top ten on the US Pop charts, but was a surprise country hit, as well, and a number of her subsequent singles have charted both pop and country simultaneously. During 1970s and early 1980s, her hits included "Danny's Song" (1972), "A Love Song" (1973), a remake of the Beatles' "You Won't See Me" (1974), "The Call" (1976), "You Needed Me" (1978) (an American #1 single), "I Just Fall In Love Again," "Shadows in the Moonlight" and "Broken-Hearted Me" (all 1979), a remake of The Monkees' "Daydream Believer" (1979), "Could I Have This Dance" (from the movie Urban Cowboy, 1980), "Blessed Are the Believers" (1981), "A Little Good News" (1983), and "Time Don't Run Out on Me" (1985).. Her hits started to taper off into the mid '80s, and her last top 100 charting pop hit was "Now and Forever (You and Me)" from 1986 (it hit the country charts at #1-she has 11 #1 country songs in all). Murray was a fixture for a while in Vegas, famous for signing million-dollar deals and even had a casino chip featuring her likeness. Earlier in her career, she had a famous gig at the Troubador, where the now famous picture of her, John Lennon, Mickey Dolenz, Harry Nilson and Alice Cooper was taken.
Though her singles continued to make the country charts for a few more years, by the early '90s, in the wake of country's neotraditionalist movement, her smooth, polished sound fell out of favour with country radio, as well. She still remains a top concert draw, and performs regularly in the US, Canada, and occasionally in Australia. Though they yielded no chart singles, recent albums, including a 1993 album of standards, Croonin', a 1999 collection of quasi-inspirational songs, "What a Wonderful World", and a 2002 album of country standards, Country Croonin', have all made the country, pop, and/or adult contemporary charts. Her 1999 album What a Wonderful World, for example, sold over 1 million copies in the US alone. It peaked in the US Billboard charts at #4 Country, #38 Pop and #1 Contemporary Christian. Country Croonin' sold over 500,000 copies in the US alone and was a top-ten US country album. Her music has been featured on The Sopranos, the movie Urban Cowboy, the Burt Reynolds film Stick, the Convoy movie, on That 70's Show and on Ellen amongst others. Her span on the US Billboard charts started in 1970 and her latest entry was in 2005.
Murray has always staunchly kept her personal life as private as possible. Thus, she has been called "Garbo-esque" in certain media circles.
She wed Bill Langstroth in the 1970s, and that union produced two children, Dawn (an aspiring singer-songwriter) and William (a student of Classical Languages at the University of Guelph).
In recent years, she has faced many personal challenges: her departure from Capitol Records after some 25 years; the apparent suicide of the author of her first hit "Snowbird" Gene MacLellan; the death of her beloved manager Leonard T. Rambeau of cancer; her separation and divorce from her husband; her daughter's battle with anorexia (they reluctantly did the US talk-show circuit to raise awareness); and most recently, the loss of her best friend to cancer (she recorded her album All of Me as a tribute to her). She has overcome all of these obstacles, and emerged in 1999 with her best selling album in 20 years "What a Wonderful World"-and has followed up with three subsequent albums.
Anne has always kept strong ties to her hometown, Springhill, Nova Scotia, located about an hour south of Moncton, N.B. and two and a half hours north of Halifax, N.S. She has a museum there which houses her memorabilia and employs local people. She has been instrumental in the construction of the local arena, and has been a spokeswoman for many charities.
She has been a victim of a relentless stalker (see "other trivia"), received a diamond in the mail from another admirer.
She supported Dusty Springfield when Springfield's personal and professional life was in turmoil. She featured Springfield as a backup vocalist on several albums and offered a spot on one of her CBC TV specials.
She donated a generous amount to the tsunami relief fund, among others.
She was a celebrity corporate spokeswoman for The Bay, Canada's oldest company, along with Celine Dion, and sang a catchy jingle for the CIBC bank ("You can count on the Commerce").
She founded a successful publishing and entertainment company called Balmur Ltd.
She is an avid golfer and her first hole-in-one was covered prominently in North America. Golf Digest placed her #39 overall and top female (and top Canadian)in their October 2006 Top 100 In Music - By Their Golf Handicaps list.
She was the first Canadian female to have a #1 pop single in the United States, with "You Needed Me" in 1978. She was also the first Canadian female to earn a U.S. gold record, for "Snowbird." Murray's Snowbird may have inspired use of the term "snowbird" to describe Canadians and Americans who spend their winters in warmer climates.
Typically, though, largely due to the amount of softer, country-tinged ballads in her repertoire, Murray has had more success on the Adult Contemporary and Country charts in America than on the pop charts. For example, Billboard magazine ranked "I Just Fall In Love Again" as the #1 Country hit of 1979, and it was also one of her eight #1 Adult Contemporary hits (the first was "Snowbird" and the last was "Daydream Believer"), but on the Hot 100 it stalled at #12.
Despite Murray's more successful track record in the Country and Adult Contemporary fields as compared to the pop charts, her only #1 pop hit, "You Needed Me," failed to reach pole position on either the Country (#4) or AC (#3) charts. "You Needed Me" also brought Murray one of her rare appearances on the UK pop chart, where it peaked at #22.
Her 1996 album "Anne Murray" was a top 10 album in Canada and spawned the A/C hit "What Would it Take".
In 1998, Anne sang "When I Fall in Love" with Celine Dion on her DVD called "An Intimate Evening With Anne Murray...Live".
Her single, "Another Sleepless Night" was used in a sketch by surrealist UK Comedians Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer in their "Bang Bang, It's Reeves & Mortimer" series - in which Vic and Bob dressed up as a couple of German Lederhosen boys with long blonde hair, moustaches and cowboy boots with exponentially expanding breasts - culminating in Vic Reeves highlighting the fact that he had heard tales of a Turkey nearby - which must be overpowered and taken as a gift for the Fuhrer before the Norwegian explorer Amundsen gets there first.