She may have sold more than 50 million albums worldwide, but after her last album in 2005, veteran singer Anne Murray pretty much retired. Or so she thought. Murray’s break from a recording career that began in 1968 lasted only a couple of years, after EMI Music Canada president Deane Cameron launched what he jokingly calls “an intervention.”
“I’d been talking her out of retirement for a while,” he says. “I thought, ‘Let’s bring her in for lunch, sit her down and ambush her.'” Thankfully for Cameron, Murray’s manager Bruce Allen had a concept he felt could swing her return: duetting with her peers on her own hits like “Songbird” and “You Needed Me.”
Murray bought into the idea and the resulting “Duets: Friends and Legends” appeared Nov. 13 in Canada on EMI Music, with a U.S. release this week via Manhattan Records. Murray says her first reaction to the proposal was mixed. “Initially I said, ‘I’ll think about it,'” the 62-year-old recalls. “I told them to come up with the producer and the singers, and if they could find someone who’s interested and interesting, I’d consider it.”
With producer Phil Ramone onboard and artists being approached, the album concept became more refined. “One of my first reactions when this was suggested was ‘Why don’t we do an album of just women?’ ” Murray says. “They all said ‘no.’ I just tucked [the idea] away-and then it turned out the people we were talking to were mostly women.” The end result is the 17-track all-female set, featuring such artists as Celine Dion, Amy Grant, Jann Arden and Martina McBride.