Anne Murray is a Canadian singer who has sold over 40 million records in a career that stretches back to the late sixties. Credited with being the first female Canadian solo artist to have a US number one she also has a soft spot for Christmas as evidenced by a healthy scattering of festive albums around her long music career. With 7 Christmas LP's, 4 of which are original recordings and 3 compilations, to her name Murray is rightfully feted as one of the prime contributors to the festive canon. And it was one of her early singles, 1970's 'Snowbird', that announced her intentions with fluffy white scenes depicted amongst a flurry of sitar, orchestral and country shuffle parts.
It would be 1981 before Anne released her first Christmas album 'Christmas Wishes' which offered a concise 10-track introduction to her love of the season. This was a touching release that took the traditional approach of mixing well known secular songs and religious carols that make up the December soundtrack. Highlights included Murray in full gospel mode for 'Go Tell It On The Mountain', a reverential and uplifting 'Joy To The World', and effervescent readings of 'Silver Bells' and 'Winter Wonderland'. 'Christmas Wishes' was released alongside Anne's first Christmas video presentation called 'A Special Anne Murray Christmas' which was put out in time for Christmas 1981 and featured the king of country himself Kris Kristofferson.
While Murray's debut Christmas album could have been construed as an enjoyable but safe addition to the festive canon her 1988 album, simply titled 'Christmas', pushed a more creative and singular approach. While Anne will forever be tagged as a classic country artist her reading of 'Christmas in Killarney' was in marked contrast as it proved to be a choral rollercoaster. Elsewhere there were little known gems such as 'No Room At The Inn' which were given a country swing courtesy of the skittering piano. With carols such as 'O Come All Ye Faithful' rubbing shoulders with holiday standards like 'White Christmas' this was an album for yuletide with enormous depth.
In 1993, 5 years after her last Christmas album, Anne released the charming 'The Season Will Never Grow Old' which was given a limited release by the Hallmark card company. With the London Symphony Orchestra offering up the lush background dynamics and the Ambrosian singers fleshing out the vocals this was a special recording. Although there was a certain amount of overlap on tracks that had previously appeared on Anne's other festive releases she did bolster her December catalogue with the likes of 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas', 'Ding Dong Merrily on High' and 'Jingle Bells'.
Through the nineties and early years of the 21st century Anne Murray released 3 Christmas retrospectives that neatly and comprehensively packaged all of her festive output to date. 'Best of The Season', 'My Christmas Favorites' and 'What A Wonderful Christmas' are all worthy if a little superfluous for those who already had her older albums. A special 1995 Christmas performance by Anne in Toronto was also given a DVD release. 'Anne Murray's Classic Christmas' included plenty of guest performers including Barenaked Ladies and Roch Voisine with the snowy yuletide backdrop provided by the Old Mill concert venue.
The gap between Anne's, non-compilation, Christmas albums may have stretched to a full 15 years but in that time she proved she had lost none of her festive mojo with 2008's 'Anne Murray’s Christmas Album' providing a dinger of a treat. Not only that but she also brought in two Christmas heavyweights (and fellow Canadians) in the form of Michael Buble for 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' and Diana Krall for 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas' to give the 15-song album a sense of yuletide grandeur. If anyone had ever doubted that Anne Murray was not besotted by the season her newest festive collection was all the evidence that was ever needed.Author: Kevin