Morna Anne Murray was born June 20, 1945, in the coal-mining town of Springhill, Nova Scotia. Her father, James Carson Murray, was the town doctor. Her mother, Marion Margaret (née Burke) Murray, was a registered nurse who focused her life on raising her family and community charity work. Murray had five brothers.
After expressing an early interest in music, she studied piano for six years. By 15 she was taking voice lessons. Every Saturday morning, she took a bus ride from Springhill to Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia, for singing lessons. One of her earliest performances was of the song "Ave Maria" at her high school graduation in 1962.
Following high school, Murray attended Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax for one year. She later studied Physical Education at University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. After receiving her degree in 1966 she taught physical education at a high school in Summerside, Prince Edward Island, for one year.
In 1965 Anne Murray appeared on the University of New Brunswick student project record "The Groove" (500 pressed). She sang two songs on the record - "Unchained Melody" and "Little Bit of Soap". On the label her name was misspelled "Anne Murry".
While there, she was encouraged to audition for the 1960s CBC musical variety television show Singalong Jubilee, but was not offered a singing position. Two years later she received a call from Singalong Jubilee co-host and associate producer, Bill Langstroth, and was asked to return for a second audition. Following that second audition, Murray was cast for the show.
After a summer of singing in local venues across the Maritimes, Murray began teaching Physical Education at a high school in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. After one year of teaching, she was offered a spot on the television show Let's Go, and returned to Singalong Jubilee.
As a regular member of the "Singalong Jubilee" cast, Murray appeared on the Singalong Jubilee Vol. III soundtrack and Our Family Album - The Singalong Jubilee Cast records released by Arc Records. The show's musical director, Brian Ahern, advised Murray that she should move to Toronto and record a solo album. Her first album, What About Me, was produced by Ahern in Toronto and released in 1968 on the Arc label.
Anne Murray's debut album was on the Canadian Arc label, titled What About Me (Arc AS 782). The lead single, the title cut, was written by Scott McKenzie and was a sizable Canadian radio hit. The project was produced by Brian Ahern, and covered songs by Joni Mitchell, Ken Tobias, and John Denver. After a year-long stint on Arc, Murray switched to Capitol Records in 1969 to record her second album, This Way Is My Way, which was released in the fall of 1969. It featured the single that launched her career, "Snowbird", which became a No. 1 hit in Canada. "Snowbird" became a surprise hit on the U.S. charts as well, reaching No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1970. It was also the first of her eight No. 1 Adult Contemporary hits. "Snowbird" was the first Gold record ever given to a Canadian artist in the United States (RIAA certified Gold on November 16, 1970). As one of the most successful female artists at that time, she became in demand for several television appearances in Canada and the United States, eventually becoming a regular on the hit U.S. TV series The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.
After the success of "Snowbird", she had a number of subsequent singles that charted both pop and country simultaneously. During the 1970s and 80s, her hits included Kenny Loggins's "Danny's Song" (1972) (peaked at No. 7 on the Hot 100) and "A Love Song" (1973); "He Thinks I Still Care" and her Top 10 cover of The Beatles' "You Won't See Me" (1974); her all-time biggest Hot 100 hit "You Needed Me" (1978) — oddly, though, the biggest hit of her career (and her personal favorite) stalled out at No. 4 country and No. 3 AC; "I Just Fall in Love Again", "Shadows in the Moonlight", and "Broken Hearted Me" (1979); her revival of The Monkees' 1967 No. 1 hit "Daydream Believer" and "Could I Have This Dance" from the Urban Cowboy motion picture soundtrack (1980); "Blessed Are the Believers" (1981); "Another Sleepless Night" (1982); "A Little Good News" (1983); 1984's "Just Another Woman in Love" and "Nobody Loves Me Like You Do" (a duet with Dave Loggins of 1974's "Please Come to Boston" fame and cousin of Kenny Loggins); and "Time, Don't Run Out On Me" (1985).
She performed "O Canada" at the first American League baseball game played in Canada on April 7, 1977, when the Toronto Blue Jays played the Chicago White Sox at Exhibition Stadium. She reprised the Canadian national anthem prior to Game 3 of the 1992 World Series at the SkyDome. Following the last game at Maple Leaf Gardens, she concluded the arena's closing ceremony by singing "The Maple Leaf Forever" at center ice wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey.
Murray was a celebrity corporate spokeswoman for The Bay, and she also did commercials and sang the company jingle ("You Can Count on the Commerce") for the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC).
Murray's last Hot 100 hit was "Now and Forever (You and Me)" from 1986; it also was her last No. 1 on both the American and Canadian country chart. Her last charting single in the U.S. was 1991's "Everyday", which appeared in Billboard's Country Singles chart, and her last charting single in Canada was 2000's "What a Wonderful World".
In 1996, Murray signed on with a new manager, Bruce Allen, who also has managed careers for Bryan Adams, Michael Bublé, Martina McBride, and Jann Arden. She recorded her first live album in 1997 and in 1999, she released What a Wonderful World, a platinum inspirational album, which went to No. 1 Contemporary Christian, No. 4 Country and No. 38 pop. She released Country Croonin' in 2002, the follow-up to her successful 1993 album, Croonin'. In 2004, she released I'll Be Seeing You in Canada only, which features a collection of songs from the early 20th century through to the mid-1940s. The American version, titled All of Me, features a bonus disc containing many of her hit singles, followed in 2005.
On June 29, 2007, Canada Post issued the limited edition Anne Murray Stamp. She was recognized along with three other iconic Canadian recording artists: Paul Anka, Gordon Lightfoot, and Joni Mitchell.
Anne Murray Duets: Friends & Legends was released in November 2007 in Canada and January 2008 in the U.S. The album comprised 17 tracks that included many of Murray's biggest hits over her four-decade career, re-recorded as duets with other established, rising, and – in one case – deceased female singers. These artists included Céline Dion, Shania Twain, k.d. lang, Nelly Furtado, Jann Arden, Québec's Isabelle Boulay, Murray's daughter Dawn Langstroth, Olivia Newton-John, Emmylou Harris, Martina McBride, Shelby Lynne, Amy Grant, Carole King, the Indigo Girls, Irish sextet Celtic Woman, the late Dusty Springfield, and Sarah Brightman. The duet with soprano Brightman was of her landmark, career-establishing No. 1 hit from 1970, "Snowbird".
Murray's album What a Wonderful World was re-released in July 2008 in North America as a 14-song package. A new Christmas album, titled Anne Murray's Christmas Album with bonus DVD was released in October 2008, and Sony BMG Music released an Elvis Presley Christmas album, titled Elvis Presley Christmas Duets, on October 14, 2008 featuring a virtual duet of "Silver Bells" with Anne Murray.
According to Linda Thompson (Elvis Presley's girlfriend from 1972–1976), Presley was a fan of Murray.
On October 10, 2007, Murray announced that she would embark on her final major tour. She toured in February and March 2008 in the U.S., followed by the "Coast-to-Coast – One Last Time" tour in April and May in Canada. Anne Murray's final public concert was held at the Sony Centre in Toronto on May 23, 2008.
On August 25, 2008 Murray appeared on the popular TV program Canadian Idol as a mentor.
On February 12, 2010, Murray was one of the eight Canadians who carried the Olympic flag during the opening ceremonies of the XXI Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
Murray has had five highly-rated US specials on CBS (over 40 million viewers each), countless Canadian specials on CBC (such as Anne Murray in Nova Scotia, Intimate Evening with Anne Murray, Anne Murray RSVP, A Special Anne Murray Christmas, Legends & Friends, Greatest Hits II, What A Wonderful World, Ladies Night Show, Anne Murray in Walt Disney World and Anne Murray's Classic Christmas) and has appeared on Solid Gold, Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Dean Martin Summer Show, Singalong Jubilee, Dinah!, The Today Show, Dolly!, The Mike Douglas Show, Christmas in Washington, Boston Pops, The Helen Reddy Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, 20/20, CNN, Perry Como's Christmas in New Mexico, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, Night of a 100 Stars, Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, The Pat Sajak Show, Royal Canadian Air Farce and Good Morning America. Her 2005 CBC special Anne Murray: The Music of My Life broke ratings records for a Thursday night, with more than 7 million Canadian viewers tuned in. The guests on her TV specials have included Julio Iglesias, Patti LaBelle, Céline Dion, Bryan Adams, Dusty Springfield, Bananarama, Dionne Warwick, John Denver, k.d. lang, Kris Kristofferson, Barenaked Ladies, Alan Thicke, Roch Voisine, Glen Campbell, Valerie Harper, Ruth Buzzi, Rita MacNeil, Andrea Martin, The Rankin Family, Diana Krall, Dawn Langstroth, Jann Arden, and Miss Piggy. The record for the highest-rated variety special in Canadian television history is Anne Murray's Family Christmas, which garnered a 43 per cent share on CBC with 4.2 million viewers.
On February 17, 2013, Family Guy devoted the "Chris Cross" episode to Murray. In the episode, Stewie and Brian become obsessed with Murray's music. Murray also appears in animated form contributing her voice.