Full name, Morna Anne Murray; born June 20, 1945, in Springhill, Nova Scotia, Canada; daughter of James Carson (a physician) and Marion (a nurse; maiden name, Burke) Murray; married Bill Langstroth (a television host and photographer), June 20, 1975; children: William, Dawn. Education: Attended Mount St. Vincent University, c. 1963; University of New Brunswick, B.S. in physical education, 1966. Addresses: Residence-- 4881 Yonge St., #412, Toronto, Ont. M2N 5X3.
Anne Murray is one of Canada's most successful vocalists. She scored her first hit in 1970 with "Snowbird," which made her the first Canadian woman ever to sell one million copies of a song. Murray has since had many other smashes on both the country and pop charts, including "Danny's Song" and "You Needed Me," and her long and fruitful career has also yielded her twenty-two Juno Awards, four Grammy Awards, and three awards from the Country Music Association.
Murray was born Morna Anne Murray on June 20, 1945, in Springhill, Nova Scotia, Canada. The daughter of a doctor and a nurse, and the only girl in a family of six, she had a happy childhood except for the trauma of mining disasters which occasionally devastated Springhill. "It was horrifying," Murray recalled for Edwin Miller of Seventeen. "Many of my girlfriends had their fathers killed. Just standing at the pit head, waiting for days on end for them to find people. You're not aware of it at the time, but it has a profound effect on you. Growing up in that environment made me fairly strong."
Murray's smalltown Canadian environment also drove her to entertain herself with music. "After a long winter," she confided to Miller, "people are ready to slash their wrists waiting for spring.... The people along the entire coast amuse themselves singing." Her parents recognized her talent during family sing-alongs, and paid for approximately eight years of piano lessons and three years of voice training. Murray had to travel one hundred miles every Saturday to get to her singing teacher. Of course, like most young people of her generation, she also listened to the radio. Her influences ranged from Rosemary Clooney to Odetta, from Dusty Springfield and Peter, Paul and Mary to Buddy Holly and the Beatles.
But as a teenager Murray did not have enough faith in her vocal abilities to depend upon them for her livelihood, and after graduating from high school she decided to enter college to become a physical education teacher. While earning her bachelor's degree from the University of New Brunswick, however, she auditioned for a Canadian summer replacement television program called "Sing-Along Jamboree." She came close to winning a spot in the show's chorus, but the producers decided they already had enough altos. Two years later, though, when Murray had already taken a job as a high-school gym teacher on Prince Edward Island, Bill Langstroth, the host of "Sing-Along," urged her to try out again. By 1967 she was a regular soloist on the show, and quickly "became Canada's country music sweetheart," in the words of Bob Levin of Maclean's.
Murray appeared barefoot and sang country and folk-flavored tunes, and Canadian fans warmed to her strong voice and wholesome image. In 1968 she recorded an album on the Canadian label Arc.
Brian Ahern, one of the producers of "Sing-Along," believed Murray could be successful on an international level as well, and he encouraged her to seek a recording contract with a label that had a U.S. affiliate. Capitol of Canada met those requirements and was eager to sign the young singer. Her first two albums for them were sufficiently well-received in Canada, but did not get much attention in the United States. But "Snowbird," a song written by another "Sing-Along" regular and recorded as the B-side of what they thought would provide a hit for Murray, brought her to the notice of U.S. audiences. It raced up both the pop and country charts in 1970, and Murray was an international star. Ironically, "Snowbird" brought Murray controversy as well. "Some people called it a drug song!" she exclaimed to Miller. "I couldn't believe it. I didn't even know what cocaine was! A guy wrote it because he was walking alone on a beach in the spring and there was snow around and birds."
Though Murray continued her efforts after "Snowbird," she went for three years without another major hit. Her fears of being a "one-hit wonder" were greatly alleviated when "Danny's Song," written by the songwriting team of Kenny Loggins and Jim Messina --also veterans of "Sing-Along"--proved successful with both pop and country audiences in 1973. The following year, she scored with another Loggins and Messina tune, "Love Song." Even with these triumphs, however, Murray was becoming frustrated with her career. Attempts to spice up her image and give her a more sophisticated appeal went nowhere, and in 1975 she went into semi-retirement after marrying former "Sing-Along" host Bill Langstroth. In 1976, Murray gave birth to her first child, William; a daughter, Dawn, followed three years later.
But while she concentrated on starting a family, Murray also did some studio work, and recorded what is perhaps her biggest hit, "You Needed Me." The song's phenomenal success encouraged Murray to return to the limelight after its 1978 release--it netted her both a Juno and a Grammy for best female pop vocalist. With the awards came a new self-confidence. Murray admitted to Christopher Petkanas in High Fidelity that at first she was daunted by her fellow 1978 Grammy nominees--stars such as Donna Summer, Olivia Newton-John, Carly Simon, and Barbra Streisand--and asked herself "What the hell am I doing in this category? Those singers are in show business." But the Canadian songstress finally came to terms with her own abilities. "I listened to my performance [on 'You Needed Me']," she told Petkanas, "and realized that I can sing as well as the next girl."
Since the breakthrough of "You Needed Me," Murray has produced a flurry of pop and country smashes, including 1979's "Shadows in the Moonlight," "I Just Fall in Love Again," and "Broken-Hearted Me" and 1980's remake of the Monkees' "Daydream Believer," and "Could I Have This Dance," a single from the film Urban Cowboy. Her concerts continue to attract large crowds in both Canada and the United States, even though she tries to schedule her appearances and recording sessions to allow her at least four days a week with her husband and children. In 1986, Murray again went for a more sophisticated pop sound with the album Something to Talk About --as she concluded for Levin, "I'm doing what I think is right.... I want to reach as many people as I can."
by Elizabeth Thomas
Anne Murray's Career
High school physical education teacher, Prince Edward Island, Canada, 1967-68; regular on Canadian television show "Sing-Along Jamboree," beginning in 1967; recording artist and concert performer, 1968--. Appeared on television shows, including "Glen Campbell's Good Time Hour," "The Muppet Show," and her own special, "A Special Anne Murray Christmas."
Anne Murray's Awards
Received numerous awards, including twenty-two Juno Awards, four Grammy Awards, and three Country Music Association Awards; named to the Order of Canada, 1975.
- Singles; on Capitol Records
- "Snowbird," 1970.
- "Cotton Jenny," 1972.
- "What About Me?" 1973.
- "Send a Little Love My Way," 1973.
- "Danny's Song," 1973.
- "You Won't See Me," 1974.
- "Love Song," 1974.
- "Just One Look," 1974.
- "He Thinks I Don't Care," 1974.
- "Son of a Rotten Gambler," 1974.
- "Things," 1976.
- "Walk Right Back," 1978.
- "You Needed Me," 1978.
- "I Just Fall in Love Again," 1979.
- "Shadows in the Moonlight," 1979.
- "Broken-Hearted Me," 1979.
- "Could I Have This Dance?" 1980.
- "Daydream Believer," 1980.
- "I'm Happy Just to Dance With You," 1980.
- "It's All I Can Do," 1981.
- "Now and Forever (You and Me)," 1986.
- Also recorded singles "Another Sleepless Night," "Just Another Woman in Love," and "A Little Good News."
- Albums; on Capitol Records
- Snowbird 1970.
- Anne Murray 1971.
- Talk It Over in the Morning 1971.
- Annie 1972.
- Love Song 1974.
- Country 1974.
- Highly Prized Possession 1974.
- Together 1975.
- Keeping in Touch 1976.
- Let's Keep It That Way 1978.
- New Kind of Feeling 1979.
- I'll Always Love You 1980.
- A Country Collection 1980.
- Anne Murray's Greatest Hits 1980.
- Where Do You Go When You Dream 1981.
- Something to Talk About 1986.
- Anne Murray's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 1989.
September 28, 2004: Murray's album, I'll Be Seeing You, was released. Source: Toronto Star, November 14, 2004.
- Maclean's, October 20, 1980, April 7, 1986.
- People, December 17, 1979.
- Seventeen, April 1980.