Two stars and a Maple Leaf; now THAT’s Canadian!

Anne Murray performed in Kelowna Tuesday night. Victoria Wednesday night. She will do 27 live shows between April 15 and May 23 when she graces Toronto with the final curtain.

For 40 years Anne Murray has lived her very talented life, given the world’s music industry absolutely stellar moments, received with great grace at least 76 national or international awards, moved back and forth between soft rock, country, and pop music genres. She’s received more Juno awards than any living Canadian.

And she has remained Canadian, a downhome girl from Springhill, Nova Scotia. This Companion of the Order of Canada embarked on what has been dubbed her ‘farewell tour’ and wanted to do it celebrating not only four decades in the music business, but also firmly anchoring herself in her Canadian roots.

When her personal assistant, Darlene Sawyer, gave her a delicate, silver maple leaf pin for Christmas a couple of years ago, Anne was taken with its detail, with its gold stem, with its uniqueness. She moved it from jacket to jacket and thoroughly enjoyed this gift.

And so, on the cusp of plans for this tour (there’s been an even more gruelling American tour before this one) Anne decided that the artist of her maple leaf pin should be commissioned to mark this tour with a pin and pendant that would identify with Canada’s diva.

Don Stuart, goldsmith, silversmith, designer was called on by the owner of the Toronto jewellery store, Metallurge, which carries his work. Don Stuart, Barrie’s famous son, is himself a member of the Order of Canada. While Anne’s vocal chords have nestled their way into our hearts, Don Stuart’s fabulous, insightful designs have done the same thing.

While Anne has been polishing Junos and Grammys and RPM awards, Don has been humbly receiving DeBeers Diamond Design awards, Platinum and Gold Counsel awards, Canadian jewellery design accolades.

Don designed a pendant, silver maple leaf with 14 karat gold stem looping around its chain and a companion pin for our cross-border super star. He was honoured to have been asked. No stranger to commission work, Don has been creating wedding rings, commemorative jewellery, liturgical works of art. “It’s wonderful that someone so recognized as Anne Murray would select my work. Everything has been approved by her… it really is for her,” commented Don.

The commission grew when Anne decided to offer replicas of the pin and pendant for sale in support of her charity, the Anne Murray Centre (.com) in Springhill. This jewellery can be purchased through her website to support her charity. Then David Asper of Canwest climbed on board and is offering the pins and pendants for his Raise-a-Reader literacy project. Don Stuart has now produced 500 of the pins and 250 pendants.

It made sense that these two artists, each famous in their own right, should meet. It was at Anne’s first toronto show in April. “We met backstage; it was very pleasant. As she approached, I said ‘nice pin!’ and we laughed.”

Don enjoyed how comfortable and down-to-earth the atmosphere is around Anne. No swooning backstage; these were her friends.

There’s a saying about fame… the higher up you are the more ordinary you get.

Could be true. When the owner of Metallurge, Carol Slavic, was having the jewellery appraised, the appraiser, a member of the American society of Appraisers, looked at Don Stuart’s work, assessing not only the jewellery but the reputation of the artist. “How come I’ve never heard of this guy?” he asked. He was amazed at Don’s international reputation.

It’s enough to keep you humble.

From artist to artist. Pin to pendant. Canadian to maple leaf.

Thanks, Anne. Thanks, Don.