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Anne Murray - Biography

Anne with Frank McKenna

In September 2010, Anne was honoured to co-host the University of New Brunswick's 225th Anniversary Celebration in Toronto with former Premier of New Brunswick and Deputy Chair of TD Financial Group Frank McKenna (who, by the way, went to school with Anne's brother Stewart). A UNB graduate, Anne claims it's where she found out that she was a more talented singer than most people!

"But I also have to mention that I was particularly excited to meet Olympic Champion Clara Hughes who received an honorary degree at the UNB anniversary event," Anne says. "She's an inspiration to both talented athletes and a 'wannabe' like me!"

That being said, you can imagine Anne's absolute delight at the ultimate honour of being one of eight distinguished Canadian Olympic flagbearers (Anne, Barbara Ann Scott, Betty Fox, Bobby Orr, Donald Sutherland, Romeo Dallaire, Jacques Villeneuve and Julie Payette) in the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games Opening Ceremonies! But how did she keep that wonderful secret for four months from everyone close to her?

Olympic Flag Bearers (Vancouver - February 12, 2010) l to r
Julie Payette, Romeo Dallaire, Jacques Villeneuve, Anne, Bobby Orr,
Barbara Ann Scott, Donald Sutherland and Betty Fox

"We were sworn to secrecy, and I signed a confidentiality agreement," Anne now reveals. "I actually was in Florida with my brother Harold and his wife Donna that week, and I told them that I had to fly back to Toronto for a root canal!"

"They're avid sports fans, so I knew they'd be watching the opening ceremonies," she continues with a laugh. "Apparently Donna said, 'There's Anne!' and Harold said, 'It can't be her…She's at the dentist!'

"I loved the whole experience! And because I didn't have to perform, I could take it all in and really enjoy the moment."

Accolades keep coming for Anne's contributions to the music industry. One worthy of special mention was the first-ever Canadian Women's Foundation Honourary Leadership Award presented in May 2010. This national foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls – working to end violence against women, move low-income women out of poverty and empower girls with confidence. In her acceptance speech, Anne talked briefly about the pain of having to revisit difficult parts of her life while co-writing her autobiography – and the realization that, compared to so many women in the world, her life and 40-year career have been blessed with great passion, talent and happiness.

"I have never been poor or hungry and I certainly have never been abused," Anne told the audience. "I have never known real despair or hopelessness. I can't imagine what it would be like not to be able to feed my children or provide for them.

"Women are nurturers. We want to fix things and make things better. Through the Canadian Women's Foundation, we can do just that…. for EACH OTHER. I applaud the efforts of the Foundation and I accept this award with humility."

In November 2010, Anne was a presenter at the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize gala, which awards $50,000 annually to the author of the best Canadian novel or short story collection, published in English, and $5,000 to each of the other four finalists.

To her delight, she was chosen to introduce fellow Nova Scotian, Johanna Skibsrud, author of The Sentimentalists and the eventual 2010 Giller Prize winner!

Anne with Johanna Skibsrud

"Johanna was the youngest author ever to be part of this prestigious competition, and she was 'the dark horse'," Anne says. "So I was surprised and elated when she won! I was sitting at the table with Johanna, her family and friends, which made the whole evening even more special."

As they chatted about their Nova Scotia roots, Anne learned that Johanna had grown up in the village of Meadowville, which just happens to be the site of the Murray clan's original homestead!

"My ancestors came from Scotland to a tract of land that they were given in Meadowville where the farmhouse still stands," Anne says. "What are the chances of us having that much in common?"

An avid reader, Anne could hardly wait to get started on the Giller Prize nominated books: The Sentimentalists by Johanna Skibsrud (autographed by the author, of course!); Annabel by Kathleen Winter; The Matter with Morris by David Berger; This Cake is for the Party by Sara Selecky; and Light Lifting by Alexander MacLeod.

Taking time to smell the fresh-cut fairways…

As Anne shifts her life into a slower pace, she finds herself having the time to appreciate the people and places around her. "The other week, I was in Huntsville, Ontario, to visit a friend and play some golf," she explains. "We had a rain day, so I went shopping on the main street and stood under my umbrella in the pouring rain just talking with people. I didn't have time to do that before. And, having grown up in Springhill, Nova Scotia, I love small towns!"

Of course, she still mixes business with the pleasure of a good golf tournament that raises funds for important charities like the one for the Kid's Help Phone in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the Bobby Orr Benefit Golf Tournament for the Atlantic Cancer Research Institute in Moncton, New Brunswick, both in September 2010.

"I really do feel retired now," Anne admits. "After a golf game, I don't have that stress of running off for a rehearsal or a sound check. I can stay and chat…and it feels great!"