SPRINGHILL – Some of Cumberland County’s top musicians are coming together next week to honour Springhill’s most famous singer.
As part of the town’s 125th birthday celebrations and to mark the 25th anniversary of the Anne Murray Centre, a dozen musicians and bands are hosting a tribute to Murray with each one of them performing the Springhill songbird’s hits during a two-hour concert in the Richard Calder Arena at the Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Community Centre.
“When I moved back to Springhill this is something I wanted to do for the community and for myself. It’s sort of like the last thing on my bucket list,” event co-organizer Chris Gooding said. “The timing was never right and I don’t think you’d have the same sort of reaction to it that we’ve had now.”
Gooding said the concert will not only pay tribute to Murray, but also raise the bar for local musicians by putting them on the big stage with a professional production company.
Moncton-based SSI – the same production company that has presented the ECMA’s rock stage, Merle Haggard and the Evolve music festival – has been hired for the evening, giving musicians and the audience an amazing and unique concert experience.
The doors open at 6 p.m. with the show starting at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10.
While Murray herself won’t be in attendance at the show, it’s being recorded and a copy will be sent to her.
The showcase will feature Chris James, Eric Fresia, Barry Patriquin, DC Smith and the Streamliners, Rob Harrison, Castle Reagh, Sweet Addiction, the Shakedown Combo, Rocky Ripley, Third Zero and Leah Killen and Gerald ‘Bear’ Davis.
Along with their own music, they will also be performing their own versions of Murray’s hits like Snowbird, Cotton Jenny, Danny’s Song, Hippo in the Bathtub and more.
“We sent out a message to the artists feeling them out to see if they were interested and the response was incredible. Right from the get-go they wanted to do this and they were telling us the songs they wanted to cover,” Gooding said. “What was amazing is that there was such a wide variety. Not everyone was choosing Snowbird or Danny’s Song. That was really neat in itself. It’s like getting her greatest album without having to manage it to avoid duplication.”
Co-organizer and Anne Murray Centre executive director Marcie Meekins said the concert will be a once in a lifetime opportunity for those performing.
“Part of our mandate is to promote the music of Nova Scotia and to me this is the epitome of fulfilling that mandate,” Meekins said. “What’s a better way to pay tribute to a Cumberland County legend than have the best and brightest in Cumberland County perform her music.”
Earlier in the day, the Anne Murray Centre is hosting a VIP patron luncheon that raises money to support music programs in Springhill and Cumberland County. Each ticket is a $200 charitable donation with all the proceeds going to support initiatives such as a new program that has musicians going to the All Saints Hospital to perform for patients in the restorative care unit.
Murray will be at the Anne Murray Centre at 2 p.m. to meet her fans to help celebrate the facility’s 25th birthday. She will also sign autographs and have photos taken with her fans.
“While the earlier event is a fundraiser, this is a free event that’s open to everyone. It’s also something Anne looks forward to, being with her fans,” Meekins said. “With it being the 25th year we have people coming from as far away as Australia and Sweden.”
Gooding first thought of the concert idea while living in Charlottetown attending journalism at Holland College. He was asked to jam with Dean Dunsford because he was from Springhill.
“That’s when I started to have this idea about having our own musicians performing Anne’s music with their own artistic flair,” Gooding said. “I think people are going to be really amazed with the caliber of the music. Cape Breton is really good at promoting its musicians and so is Halifax and Yarmouth, but here in Cumberland County it’s almost like it’s just a slice of life that so and so is such a talented individual.”
Meekins said the concert is so appropriate because Murray crossed over into so many genres during her 40-year-plus music career.
“Anne was one of those great crossover artists who could go from genre to genre,” Meekins said. “She wasn’t just a country music artist. She produced a lot of pop material and even gospel and that’s what is so special about her.”