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Anne Murray - Biography

Anne and her father

"I often think that perhaps the reason I became a successful singer was that, as a kid, I could never do anything as well as my brothers. I wanted to do something better than they did."

- Anne Murray

By the time she was seven years old, she was singing all the time. 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.

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. Anne's songs are forever in our hearts.

With younger brother, Stewart

Morna Anne Murray was born on June 20, 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

Sunbathing with her mother

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.

Anne studied piano for six years. 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. Her mother recalls one of her first performances:

1966 university graduation

"I think it was Grade 11, at her graduation, that she sang Ave Maria. Anne noticed people were crying in the audience. That's when she knew that her voice must be good."

- Anne's mother, Marion Murray

After high school, Anne 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. 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)."