Sylvia Tyson

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Sylvia Tyson
Sylvia Tyson in 2010.JPG
Tyson in 2010
Background information
Birth name Sylvia Fricker
Born (1940-09-19) 19 September 1940 (age 76)
Chatham, Ontario, Canada
Origin Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Genres Folk, country rock, country
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter, broadcaster, author
Instruments Vocals, autoharp, guitar, piano
Years active 1959–present
Labels Vanguard, Columbia, Capitol, Stony Plain, Salt, Outside
Associated acts Ian & Sylvia, Great Speckled Bird, Quartette

Sylvia Tyson, CM (born Sylvia Fricker, 19 September 1940, Chatham, Ontario, Canada), is a musician, performer, singer-songwriter and broadcaster.[1]

Early years[edit]

The second of four children,[2] her father was an appliance salesman for the T. Eaton Company, and her mother was a church organist, who also led the choir.[3] Although her parents both loved music, they tried to discourage Sylvia from pursuing a career as an entertainer. But she says she knew from a young age that she wanted to be a singer, and she left Chatham in 1959 to perform in Toronto.[2]

Ian & Sylvia[edit]

From 1959 to 1974, she was half of the popular folk duo Ian & Sylvia with Ian Tyson.[4][5] The two met after a friend of Ian Tyson's heard her sing at a party and let Ian know about her; Ian had been performing in Toronto clubs as a solo artist, but after he and Sylvia met, they decided to work together as a duo.[6] From the late 1960s to the early 1970s, she and Ian Tyson also fronted the country rock band Great Speckled Bird. Since 1993, she has been a member of the all-female folk group Quartette.

Perhaps her best-known song was "You Were on My Mind", which was originally recorded by Ian & Sylvia in 1964. Sylvia wrote it in 1962, and has said it was the first song she wrote.[7] The song became a popular 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. It has become a rock and roll standard which has been covered numerous times.

She married Ian Tyson on June 26, 1964;[8] the two were divorced in 1975.[9] During their marriage, they had one child, Clayton Dawson (Clay) Tyson.[10][11]

Later career[edit]

Sylvia Tyson has contributed offstage to the Canadian music scene as a board member of FACTOR and the Juno Awards. She also established an independent record label, Salt Records, in the early 1980s.[12]

With Tom Russell, she was an editor of the 1995 anthology And Then I Wrote: The Songwriter Speaks (ISBN 9781551520230).[12] In 2011, she wrote her first novel, a 420-page book entitled Joyner's Dream.[7]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Sylvia Tyson was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1994.[13]

She was nominated seven times for a Juno Award, the first being in 1987 as Country Female Vocalist of the Year. But despite these nominations, she has not yet won a Juno award.

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. ^ a b Sarah Hampson. "The Hampson Interview: Sylvia Tyson." Toronto Globe & Mail, July 31, 2004, p. R3.
  3. ^ June Callwood. "The Informal Sylvia Tyson." Toronto Globe & Mail, October 28, 1974, p. 8.
  4. ^ "Tyson". Quartette. 2003-09-08. Retrieved 2012-04-04. 
  5. ^ "Ian and Sylvia". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2012-04-04. 
  6. ^ Dennis Braithwaite. "How to Get Rich." Toronto Globe & Mail, October 29, 1963, p. 31.
  7. ^ a b John Barber. "I've Been a Writer All My Life." Toronto Globe & Mail, March 19, 2011, p. R19.
  8. ^ "Bach and Shubert as Ian, Sylvia Wed." Toronto Globe & Mail, June 27, 1964, p. 18.
  9. ^ Leblanc, Larry (12 February 2005). "Tyson Takes a New 'Road'". Billboard. p. 52. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  10. ^ Lederman, Marsha (28 March 2008). "Tyson comes clean". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  11. ^ "They're partners in life as well as in music, which must have its difficult moments like the prospect of having to sing with someone you were maybe not speaking to. But they certainly have made that work, what with that thing rolling around on the rug, young Clayton Dawson, herein and hereafter referred to as 'Mr. Spoons.'" From the jacket notes (by John Court) to Ian and Sylvia's LP "Lovin' Sound", MGM 4388, 1967. Quoted in Mudcat Forum by Dale Rose, 1999-04-16; accessed 2011-05-08.
  12. ^ a b The Canadian Press (8 September 2003). "Country music to honour Tyson". London Free Press. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  13. ^ "Order of Canada: Sylvia Tyson". Governor General of Canada. 19 October 1994. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 

External links[edit]