Award-winning singer, Canadian icon, environmentalist and Bullfrog Founders Club member
Anne Murray’s unique voice and heartwarming style have made her a household name all over the world—and a national icon here in Canada. Selling more than 54 million albums over a career that has spanned more than 40 years, Murray has been the recipient of countless honours, including four Grammy Awards, 24 JUNO Awards, three American Music Awards and three CMA Awards. She is a Companion of the Order of Canada and is on a Canada Post limited edition stamp. Anne has been inducted into Nashville’s Walkway of Stars and has her own star at Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles and on Canada’s Walk of Fame in Toronto.
Through the years, Anne has held—and championed—several causes close to her heart. In 1989, she lent her name and support to the Anne Murray Centre in her hometown of Springhill, Nova Scotia, to help foster tourism in the region and boost the local economy. She has used her celebrity status to raise funds for charities such as The Gilda’s Club of Greater Toronto and the Canwest Raise-a-Reader Concert series and in 2009, the Anne Murray Charity Golf Classic supported Colon Cancer Canada. As a member of the TELUS Atlantic Canada Community Board, she also helped support local Atlantic Canada charities. A supporter of environmentalist David Suzuki, Anne has taken meaningful action to help protect the environment.
Bullfrog Power recently caught up with Murray to chat with her on the topics of her musical career, her new autobiography, All of Me, and her environmentalism.
When did you first recognize that you had a passion for singing?
I’ve been singing ever since I can remember. However, as far as knowing it was a passion, I would have been in my teens when I realized that I just had to do it, and I did it all the time.
Looking back on your career, what is your one most memorable performance or performing experience?
The first time I played Radio City Music Hall was overwhelming. It is a huge theatre, which seats roughly 6,000 people and is over twice the size of the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto. However, there have been several memorable experiences: from playing at the Houston Astrodome to 45,000 people to playing on Parliament Hill in 1992 at Canada’s 125thanniversary celebration. To hear all those people, I think there were about 100,000 people, singing “Could I Have This Dance?” was a real buzz. Another experience I remember was at Texas A&M University in the early 1980s. It was memorable because those kids sang all the words to every song and there were about 10,000 people in attendance—it was amazing.
What was your inspiration when you were on stage?
On stage, my motivation was to put on the best show I could: to sing as well as I could, to connect with the audience, and to have fun. Working on the “fun part” was important for me because the singing was always there. However, I had to learn how to become a performer and to ensure that everyone who attended my show left smiling.
Do you have a favourite song to sing?
I have about four or five that are favourites, but I have to say “You Needed Me,” written by American songwriter Randy Goodrum, because it came along at a time in my career when I really needed it. I needed a hit record badly, and there it was. Not only was it a hit record, but it was also a great song, wellcrafted and beautiful. I feel fortunate to have been able to sing it.
What is your favourite line or verse from any song you’ve sung?
One of my favourite lines is “What seems like only a piece of ground, can get into your blood and turn your heart around” from a song called, “Please Don’t Sell Nova Scotia,” which I recorded early on in my career. That particular line moved me as much as anything I’ve ever sung. I’m from Nova Scotia and it will always be home to me, but that line can apply to anybody who feels strongly about a particular place.
Why did you decide to write your autobiography, All of Me?
I felt that in Canada someone would write the book and I thought that it should come from me. The timing could not have been better as I was in the process of retiring. It was the last thing on my career list, to write this book.
Why did you choose to bullfrogpower your home?
I believe that climate change is a real challenge and that it is incumbent upon us to do whatever we can to reduce our impact on the environment and help create a cleaner world for future generations. Around my home, I have decided to do everything that I can and this includes signing on for renewable electricity with Bullfrog Power.
What other things have you done in your personal life to reduce your environmental footprint?
I have been careful when it comes to the environment for many years. About 20 years ago I started making changes in my life to help protect it—just little things. I had read enough and seen enough to know it was the right thing to do.
For example, I stopped using paper napkins and paper towels to prevent additional waste from going to landfills. In addition, I have not used plastic bags for over 15 years. My nannies used to take net bags to the grocery stores, even though store clerks were not used to them at the time and often gave my nannies a hard time. I compost when I’m in Nova Scotia, and in Toronto, I make use of the green bins. My friends call me the “Tupperware Queen” because I do not allow anyone to use saran wrap or baggies in my home. Six years ago, I went through my house and got rid of all my light bulbs, changing them to compact fluorescent lights. I also use a front-load washer and green cleaning products.
The environment is a personal thing for me—it’s my choice to do whatever I can. In the early days, people just laughed at me and said, “Oh, don’t be ridiculous.” Now it has come full circle and people are realizing just how important the world is to us and that it can be helped.
Do writers, performers, and musicians have a role to play helping the cause?
Yes, in a way we do and that is to set a good example for people. That is all I have ever done. I have never preached anything…well maybe a little about the environment. I have just lived my life, sung my songs and done my thing. People have said over the years that I’ve been a good role model, and if that’s the case, then that’s fine with me. I try not to preach though. I just do it.
>> Ms. Murray’s interview was originally published in the Summer 2010 issue of the Bullfrog Buzz.