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anne murray (canadian country/folk singer)

Morna Anne Murray was born on 20 June 1945 in the small coal mining town of Springhill, Nova Scotia. Her father James Carson Murray was the town doctor and her mother Marion was a registered nurse who decided to focus her life on raising her family.

Anne learned determination and perseverance from her parents and from growing up with five brothers – David, Daniel, Harold, Stewart and Bruce. When Anne remembers her childhood, she remembers singing – her father singing while he was shaving, her mother singing around the house, and her brothers singing together.

“As far back as I can remember, I sang. The first time I became aware that I could sing maybe a little better than others, I was driving in a car. I was nine years old, and I was singing along to the radio. My aunt-to-be was in the front seat and she turned to my mother and said ‘My, Marion, she has a beautiful voice.’ I later found out that Aunt Kay was tone deaf, but I guess it doesn’t mean she couldn’t detect talent!”

– Anne Murray

Murray’s childhood was unusually stable. Expressing an early interest in music, her parents paid for six years of piano lessons. The only childhood bump she appears to have experienced is when her Grade 5 music teacher told her to stop singing in the middle of the first line of a singing test. She gave Murray one of her lowest marks ever, a C.

By the time she was seven years old, she was singing all the time. At age 15, she began taking classical voice lessons. (Her younger brother, Bruce, would soon also follow this path. Bruce went on to perform and tour with Anne in the 1980s.) Every Saturday morning, Anne took a two-hour bus ride from Springhill to Tatamagouche and back, for her singing lesson with Karen Mills.

anne murray (canadian country/folk singer)

One of her earliest performances and defining moments was when she performed the song ‘Ave Maria’ at her high school graduation in 1962.

“I think it was Grade 11, at my graduation, that I sang Ave Maria. I noticed people were crying in the audience. That’s when I knew that my voice must be good.”

– Anne Murray

Anne loved music. It was the age of rock ‘n’ roll, and she sang along with all her favourites – Buddy Holly, Bobby Darin and Connie Francis. However, Anne was also inspired by a wide variety of musical styles, including the classics, country, gospel, folk, and crooners such as Patti Page, Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney. She loved them all.

After she got her high school graduation, Murray spent a year at Mount Saint Vincent University, a Catholic women’s college in Halifax.

Her next stop was the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, where she studied Physical Education. Her passion for music continued.

anne murray (canadian country/folk singer)

In her early 20’s with luck on her side, she would escape from a near sexual assault whilst on a date with a doctor.

Her university friends talked her into auditioning for Singalong Jubilee, a popular CBC television show. Anne took along her baritone ukulele to the audition. Although she was not offered a job (there were already enough altos in the cast), she did make an impression!

Two years and a tonsillectomy later, she got a call from Singalong Jubilee co-host and associate producer, Bill Langstroth. She reluctantly agreed to return for a second audition in 1966, and this time, she got the job! A document on display at the Anne Murray Centre in Springhill, dated May 30, 1966, tells it all: “Your signature on four copies of this letter will serve to engage your services for the 1966 Singalong Jubilee series. It is understood that you will be required to function either as a singer for a fee of seventy-one dollars and fifty cents ($71.50) per show or as a soloist for a fee of ninety-nine dollars ($99.00).”

Murray would begin a romance with her boss Langstroth, almost 15 years her senior, and whilst he was still married. Murray later said of the relationship, she was falling in love fast, and powerless to do anything about it.

“Bill was good for me in so many ways. I was reticent and he was a dreamer. He believed that you can make things that seem impossible happen, and he made me believe that too.”

anne murray (canadian country/folk singer)

Murray would later marry Langstroth in 1975, and she would give birth to two children, William (1976) and Dawn (1979). William was an avid cyclist with musical talent, and Dawn would become a singer/songwriter. Murray watched helplessly by as her daughter would succumb to anorexia, a disease she would later beat. After it became public, the two would reluctantly do the US talk-show circuit to raise awareness of the deadly affliction.

She also rejected Spanish crooner Julio Iglesias’s advances because she was married.

Langstroth passed away in 2013.

Murray would later admit to smoking marijuana, a confession at odds with her long-standing, wholesome, girl-next-door image.

She also admits that she was once so inebriated that she peed on famous composer and jazz trumpeter Herb Alpert’s pants while sitting on his lap in a cab in the Bahamas at the start of her show business career.

For over 40 years, her unique voice and heartwarming style have made her a household name. She led the way for a generation of Canadian divas, who have also conquered the world – Celine Dion, Shania Twain, k.d. lang, Alanis Morissette and Sarah McLachlan. They all followed in her footsteps – Canada’s “Songbird”, Anne Murray.

Some of Murray’s most notable hits include, ‘Delta Dawn’, ‘I just Fall In Love Again’, ‘Could I have The Dance’, ‘Daydream Believer’, ‘Just Another Woman In Love’, and ‘You needed Me’, just to name a few.

Murray has always attracted a strong lesbian fan base but insists she has never swung that way herself. One of her gay female admirers told her that gay women were looking for strong, independent, approachable women as role models, and “I definitely fit that bill.”

Her singing idol was the late Dusty Springfield, who came on to her and then drunkenly scratched Langstroth’s face after Anne spurned her.

anne murray (canadian country/folk singer)

Murray’s popularity was waning by the late 1980s. In 1992, her longtime label, Capital Records, dropped her.

Over the years, Anne’s recordings have seldom been off the charts. She has sold close to 50 million albums and has won countless awards. However, Anne Murray is more than just a Canadian icon. Her warm voice and well-loved songs have become woven into the fabric of our lives. Anne’s songs celebrate our important milestones – childhood, a first love, the wedding day, parenthood and loss. They comfort us and inspire us; they bring joy and uplift us.

After a 40 year career spawning many Awards including 4 Grammys, three CIMA’s, several Juno Awards, several American Music Awards and numerous others, Murray recently announced her retirement from the music industry.

anne murray (canadian country/folk singer)
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