Sylvia Tyson

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Sylvia Tyson
Sylvia Tyson in 2010.JPG
Tyson in 2010
Background information
Birth nameSylvia Fricker
Born (1940-09-19) 19 September 1940 (age 78)
Chatham, Ontario, Canada
OriginToronto, Ontario, Canada
GenresFolk, country rock, country
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter, broadcaster, author
InstrumentsVocals, autoharp, guitar, piano
Years active1959–present
LabelsVanguard, Columbia, Capitol, Stony Plain, Salt, Outside
Associated actsIan & Sylvia, Great Speckled Bird, Quartette

Sylvia Tyson, CM (born 19 September 1940), is a musician, performer, singer-songwriter and broadcaster.[1] She is best known as part of the folk duo Ian and Sylvia. Since 1993, she has been a member of the all-female folk group Quartette.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Tyson was born Sylvia Fricker in Chatham, Ontario.[4] She was the second of four children;[5] her father was an appliance salesman for the T. Eaton Company, and her mother was a church organist and choir leader.[6] At a young age Fricker decided to become a singer; although her parents tried to discourage her from pursuing a career as an entertainer, she left Chatham in 1959 to perform in Toronto.[5]

Ian & Sylvia[edit]

From 1959 to 1974, she was half of the popular folk duo Ian & Sylvia with Ian Tyson.[7][8] The two met after a friend of Tyson's heard her sing at a party and let Ian know about her; Tyson had been performing in Toronto clubs as a solo artist, but after he and Fricker met, they decided to work together as a duo.[9] From the late 1960s to the early 1970s, she and Ian Tyson also fronted the country rock band Great Speckled Bird.

Sylvia wrote her first and best-known song "You Were on My Mind" in 1962. It was recorded by Ian & Sylvia in 1964.[10] The song has been covered extensively,[11] and became a hit single in the mid-1960s for the San Francisco-based folk-rock band We Five and also for the British pop singer Crispian St. Peters.

Fricker married Ian Tyson on 26 June 1964.[12] During their years together they recorded 13 albums.[4]

The Tysons were divorced in 1975.[13] During their marriage, they had one child, Clayton Dawson (Clay) Tyson.[14]

Later career[edit]

After the Tysons separated and stopped performing together in 1975, Sylvia started a solo career;[4] she released two albums through Capital Records, Woman's World in 1975 and Cool Wind from the North in 1976.[15] She then established an independent record label, Salt Records, in the early 1980s.[16] Through this label she released the albums, Satin on Stone in 1978 and Sugar for Sugar in 1979.[15]

Sylvia Tyson contributed offstage to the Canadian music scene as a board member of FACTOR and the Juno Awards. With Tom Russell, she was an editor of the 1995 anthology And Then I Wrote: The Songwriter Speaks (ISBN 9781551520230).[16] In 2011, she wrote her first novel, a 420-page book entitled Joyner's Dream.[10]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Sylvia Tyson was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1994.[17]

She was nominated seven times for a Juno Award, the first being in 1987 as Country Female Vocalist of the Year.

The Canadian Music Hall of Fame inducted Ian & Sylvia as a duo in 1992. In 2003, Sylvia Tyson herself was inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame.[1]



Year Album CAN Label
1975 Woman's World 54 Capitol
1976 Cool Wind from the North
1978 Satin on Stone Salt
1979 Sugar for Sugar, Salt for Salt
1986 The Big Spotlight Stony Plain
1989 You Were on My Mind
1992 Gypsy Cadillac Silver City
2000 River Road and Other Stories Salt/Outside
2001 The Very Best of Sylvia Tyson Varèse Sarabande
2011 Joyners Dream: The Kingsfold Suite Outside Music


Year Single Chart Positions Album
CAN Country CAN AC
1972 "Give It to the World" 44 single only
1975 "Sleep on My Shoulder" 35 24 Woman's World
1976 "Good Old Song" 42 Cool Wind from the North
1979 "Love Is a Fire" 32 Satin on Stone
1980 "Same Old Thing" 36 Sugar for Sugar, Salt for Salt
1985 "Up in Smoke" 50 single only
1986 "Denim Blue Eyes" 15 The Big Spotlight
1987 "Too Short a Ride" 20
1989 "You Were on My Mind" 35 You Were on My Mind
1990 "Slow Moving Heart" 43
"Rhythm of the Road" 42
"Thrown to the Wolves" (with Tom Russell) 43
1992 "I Walk These Rails" 18 Gypsy Cadillac
1993 "The Sound of One Heart Breaking" 52


  1. ^ a b "CCMA Hall Of Fame - Sylvia Tyson". Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
  2. ^ John Einarson (January 2001). Desperados: The Roots of Country Rock. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 233–. ISBN 978-0-8154-1065-2.
  3. ^ Larry LeBlanc (4 February 1995). Canada: Who's Who. Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 80–. ISSN 0006-2510.
  4. ^ a b c Larry LeBlanc (9 September 2000). Tyson album, stage show, draw on her life and long career in music. Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. pp. 60–. ISSN 0006-2510.
  5. ^ a b Hampson, Sarah (31 July 2004). "The Hampson Interview: Sylvia Tyson". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. p. R3.
  6. ^ Callwood, June (28 October 1974). "The Informal Sylvia Tyson". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. p. 8.
  7. ^ "Tyson". Quartette. 2003-09-08. Retrieved 2012-04-04.
  8. ^ "Ian and Sylvia". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2012-04-04.
  9. ^ Braithwaite, Dennis (29 October 1963). "How to Get Rich". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. p. 31.
  10. ^ a b Barber, John (19 March 2011). "I've Been a Writer All My Life". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. p. R19.
  11. ^ Saxberg, Lynn (16 December 2016). "A Quartette Christmas with Sylvia Tyson and friends". Ottawa Citizen.
  12. ^ "Bach and Shubert as Ian, Sylvia Wed". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. 27 June 1964. p. 18.
  13. ^ Leblanc, Larry (12 February 2005). "Tyson Takes a New 'Road'". Billboard. p. 52. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
  14. ^ Lederman, Marsha (28 March 2008). "Tyson comes clean". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
  15. ^ a b Jason Schneider (15 December 2010). Whispering Pines: The Northern Roots of American Music... from Hank Snow to the Band. ECW Press. pp. 1–. ISBN 978-1-55490-552-2.
  16. ^ a b The Canadian Press (8 September 2003). "Country music to honour Tyson". London Free Press. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
  17. ^ "Order of Canada: Sylvia Tyson". Governor General of Canada. 19 October 1994. Retrieved 2009-11-11.

External links[edit]