Monday, February 3, 2014

Anne Murray, The #26 Female Artist of the Rock Era

Morna Anne Murray was born in Springhill, Nova Scotia, Canada.  She became interested in music at an early age, and studied piano for six years.  By age 15, Murray was taking voice lessons.  After high school, Murray attended Mountain Saint Vincent University in Halifax for one year, and then studied Physical Education at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton.  She sang two songs on a project recorded by singers at the University.  She auditioned for the CBS television show Singalong Jubilee but was not offered a part.  Two years later, Murray was asked by Singalong Jubilee co-host and associate producer Bill Langstroth to return for another audition.  This time, Murray won a spot in the cast.

Anne received her degree in 1967 and taught high school physical education in Summerside, Prince Edward Island for one year before returning to Singalong Jubilee.  Brian Ahern, musical director of the show, encouraged Anne to move to Toronto to record a solo album.  

Anne released the album What About Me in 1968 on Arc Records.  The title song, written by Scott McKenzie, was a big Canadian hit.  The next year, Anne switched to Capitol Records to record her album This Way Is My Way.

Murray released "Snowbird" as the first single from her second album, and it was the one that catapulted her to stardom.  "Snowbird" hit #1 in Canada and #1 on the Easy Listening chart and #8 overall in the United States.  It sold over one million copies in the U.S. alone.

Murray appeared on several television shows, eventually becoming a regular on the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.

Anne continued to chart well in Canada, and reached #7 on the Easy Listening chart in the United States with the title song from her 1971 album Talk It Over in the Morning.  But her next big hit was her version of Kenny Loggins' "Danny's Song" in 1972, #1 in Canada and #1 on the Adult chart and #7 overall in the U.S.

 "A Love Song" in 1973 gave Murray her third Adult #1; it also peaked at #13 overall and was another #1 smash in her native Canada.  Anne won the Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance.

Anne landed at #1 again both in Canada and the Easy Listening chart in 1974 with "You Won't See Me", a #8 hit on the Popular chart in the U.S.

In 1975, Murray was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.  The following year, she received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from University of New Brunswick.

In 1977, Anne had the privilege of singing "O Canada" at the first American League baseball game played in Canada on April 7, when Toronto hosted the Chicago White Sox.

Murray continued to get Easy Listening and Country play, but went through an extended period without mainstream success.  Then in 1978, she released the album Let's Keep It That Way.  The second single from the LP was an across-the-board smash.  "You Needed Me" was her first Gold record in eight years and was #1 in the U.S. and Canada and #2 in Australia.

Murray captured her second Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal for "You Needed Me".  She received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Saint Mary's University.  The next year, Anne released the album New Kind of Feeling, and collected her fifth #1 on the Adult chart with the single "I Just Fall In Love Again".  It was #12 overall, and became her fifth career #1 song in Canada.

"Shadows In The Moonlight" also topped the AC chart and was an underrated #25 overall; meanwhile, it also rocketed to #1 in Canada.

Murray was red-hot, and she released the album I'll Always Love You later in the year to capitalize on the good fortune.  The single "Broken Hearted Me" gave her three straight #1's on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Anne's remake of the Monkees' "Daydream Believer" ran her streak to four straight #1 songs on the more-important AC chart, and was #12 on the "popular" chart.

In 1980, Murray received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  She released the album Somebody's Waiting, which yielded another Top 10 AC hit (#8) in "Lucky Me".

Murray released her Greatest Hits package later in the year, which included the new song "Could I Have This Dance".  It was featured on the "Urban Cowboy" Soundtrack and promptly went to #3 on the Adult Contemporary chart.  Anne won the Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance.

In 1981, Anne had another Top 10 AC hit with "Blessed Are The Believers".  She won the American Music Award for Favorite Country Singer.

Murray won another Grammy for Best Country Vocal Performance for the song "A Little Good News", and captured American Music Awards for Favorite Country Video Single and Favorite Country Female Video Artist.  She was on a streak of 10 straight Adult #1's in Canada, but her next big multi-national hit was "Just Another Woman In Love" in 1984, which hit #7 on the AC chart in the U.S.

Anne received the prestigious honor of Companion Of The Order Of Canada, the second-highest honor that a Canadian civilian can earn.  Later in the year, Anne combined with Dave Loggins for the #10 AC song "Nobody Loves Me Like You Do".

In 1986, Murray released the album Something to Talk About, which contained the single "Now And Forever (You And Me)".  The song jumped to #7 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Murray released seven more studio albums, but was only able to receive significant airplay in her native Canada after that.  She performed the Canadian national anthem prior to Game 3 of the 1992 World Series in Toronto.

In 2007, Canada Post issued a limited edition Anne Murray Stamp.  Also that year, several artists, including Olivia Newton-John, Celine Dion, Carole King, Shania Twain, Amy Grant, Nelly Furtado, Emmylou Harris, Martina McBride and the Indigo Girls, recorded the album Anne Murray Duets:  Friends & Legends.  The stars recorded duets of some of Murray's biggest career hits.

Murray toured for the final time in 2007, making stops throughout North America.  In 2009, Murray released the autobiography All of Me.  Also that year, Anne received an Honorary Degree from the University of Prince Edward Island.  In 2010, Anne carried the Olympic flag during the opening ceremonies of the XXI Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Anne has hosted five television specials on CBS that garnered over 40 million viewers each, as well as hosted numerous Canadian television specials.  She has appeared on Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, 20/20, The Mike Douglas Show, Solid Gold, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, Good Morning America, Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, and many others.

Murray has won four Grammy Awards and three American Music Awards and sold over 54 million records worldwide.  She has enjoyed 11 Top 40 hits, with four of those reaching the Top 10 and one #1 song.  But it was on the important Adult Contemporary chart that she dominated, becoming one of that genre's biggest all-time stars.  Murray had no less than 39 AC hits, with 16 reaching the Top 10 and 10 #1's.

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