Keeping with last week’s theme of not only Christmas music, but artists who I heard about second hand, today’s featured act was the first female Canadian singer to reach number one on the U.S. charts. She also paved the way for other international successes like Celine Dion and Shania Twain.
Morna Murray was born in a coal mining town in Nova Scotia, Canada. Dad was the town doctor and mom was a registered nurse who focused her life around her family and some charity work. Morna showed early interest in music and began learning various instruments. Her main passion seemed to lie in the piano, so she studied it for six years. By age 15, she began taking vocal lessons—traveling alone by bus to visit her coach. One of her first open performances was “Ave Maria” at her high school graduation in 1962.
Uncertain if music had a future in it, Morna began college and eventually changed focus to a degree in physical education. Despite the switch, while at the university, she would appear on a student project record. While it was a small-time, low-selling production, it would eventually be heard by the right people. She was called to be a part of a sing-a-long musical variety television show in Canada and subsequently, signed to a fairly large label.
Going by her middle name, Anne Murray began to explode onto the pop culture scene. Beyond the TV show, her first album was released in 1968 and she never looked back. Thirty-two studio albums, 15 compilation albums over half a dozen holiday albums, Murray became a staple in the music business.
Today I’m listening to her Icon: Christmas album that was released in 2014. If you don’t think you’ve heard her before, the style is timeless. She’s that classic soft rock/country sound that seems to transcend generations. Oddly enough, once you hear her, it’s like you’ve heard her your entire life and begin to think about songs you’ve heard in passing for decades. Thinking I didn’t know her work, just hearing her voice now makes me think I know at least half a dozen of her songs from the ‘60s through the ‘80s. In terms of this particular record, it’s more or less the “who’s who” of Christmas tunes. All the classics are there, some of them more cleverly arranged by Murray. And obviously her vocal does all of them proud.
You may be surprised to read, but Murray has four Grammy Awards, three AMA’s, three CMA’s and a record-setting 24 Juno Awards (Canadian music awards). She ranks 24 on the 40 Greatest Women of Country Music by CMT and has been awarded the second highest civilian honor that can be awarded to a Canadian. In 2007, she even had her own stamp created by our neighbors to the north.
Still not impressed? Anne Murray has sold an astonishing 65 million albums worldwide in her career. And while you might think it’s all ‘Snowbird’ or the hits, it’s not—Murray’s albums sold one after another, year after year. All in all, she’s one of the most accomplished artists in music history. When you listen, it’s easy to understand why. It’s a very easy listening style that can get anyone’s toes tapping. This particular record is no different, except in Christmas music form.
If Pentatonix last week didn’t remove the scrooge from your holiday spirit, Anne Murray almost certainly can. And I love the juxtaposition from last week to this week; one modern, a cappella band in contrast to today’s timeless classic artist. You can hear the same tracks, but performed so differently that they almost seem like completely different tracks. Do you hear what I hear? It’s almost Christmas time, Cheap Tunes Tuesday style! Joy to the world!!
Top 3 Tracks: