Before there was Shania Twain, Celine Dion, or Avril Lavigne, there was Anne Murray — a pop-country international crossover star who paved the way for female singers to emerge out of Canada.
"The odds were against me, coming from Nova Scotia," Murray, 64, said in an interview. "When I was a kid, it was just a wild dream to think that I would've had a career like this, and I really didn't think that was possible. But things just kind of started to roll, and I was caught up in it, and I went with it."
In her autobiography, "All of Me," released last year, Murray reflects on her 41-year career in music. She was the first Canadian female solo singer to reach No. 1 on the U.S. charts and also the first to earn a gold record for "Snowbird" in 1970. Murray was also the first woman and the first Canadian to win "Album of the Year" at the Country Music Association Awards, for her 1984 album "A Little Good News." Her albums have sold over 54 million copies. She might be best known for her ballad, "You Needed Me."
"The year that I won the Grammy for best pop vocalist (in 1978) was probably a highlight in my career, because it really said something for me that I was crossing over all of those lines and that people saw that," she said.
"A lot of people want to put you in a slot. They want to categorize you," she added. "So I fought that, because I liked all different kinds of music. If I heard a good country song, like 'Could I Have This Dance,' or 'Somebody's Always Saying Goodbye,' I wanted to sing it, a great song like that. Whether or not I considered myself a country singer, when I sang a country song, I was as good as anybody."
But success did not come without sacrifice. Touring and various appearances in the United States forced her to be away from her children, Dawn and William Langstroth, for long periods of time.
"I started to take them on the road with me, but both of my children developed ear problems. I couldn't take them. They had to have tubes in their ears. They couldn't fly," she said. "So it was hard for me to leave them behind, and I did. And both of them felt it. I felt terrible guilt at having to leave them. So my son really resented the business, and resented the fact that it did take his mother from him."
The demands of her career also put strain on her marriage to Bill Langstroth, which Murray said was a difficult chapter in her life to write about.
"When I was going through all the divorce things, that was really hard to discuss, because nobody wants to talk about their failures," she said. "Nobody wants to talk about how painful those kinds of things are."
Ultimately, Murray is thankful for what she calls "a wonderful career." Her most recent album, "Anne Murray's Christmas Album," released in 2008, featured a duet with Michael Buble. She suggested it that might be her last.
"I've been doing it for 41 years," she said. "I'm grateful that I feel comfortable in the fact that I'm not going to be doing it anymore, and I didn't know that I could come to this, but I can still sing, and what better time to pack it in than that?"
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