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Iconic Folk Duo Ian & Sylvia Individually Inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame

On Thursday night, Sept. 5, in Calgary during country music week, the members of iconic Canadian folk duo Ian & Sylvia, Ian Tyson met Sylvia Fricker, were indiviudally inducted into the Canadian SOongwriters Hall of Fame. The induction took place at Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre.

“Ian & Sylvia were pioneers of the singer-songwriter movement – a genre firmly established today because of their leadership,” says Vanessa Thomas, Executive Director of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. “As a performing duo they were superb, and it was apparent through their second album that they wanted to announce their strong individual songwriting skills as well, which continued to drive their authenticity throughout their music careers spanning more than six decades.”

During the ‘60s and ‘70s, as the folk-singing duo Ian & Sylvia, they were among North America’s leading singer-songwriters, achieving commercial and critical success and recording 13 studio albums. The duo performed their hit songs for U.S. President Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 re-election campaign, at the Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall and Town Hall in NYC; as well as appearances on television’s “Hullabaloo,” the Johnny Cash Show, Steve Allen Show, Mike Douglas Show, and the BBC.

Their folk standards “Four Strong Winds” – deemed by the CBC to be the “most essential” piece of Canadian music – and “You Were on My Mind” were inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003 and 2007 respectively. Ian penned “Four Strong Winds” after an evening with Bob Dylan, and Sylvia is credited with “You Were on My Mind,” making her one of the few female folk artists to write a major song in that genre at the time, which was remade in 1965 by American folk-rock quintet, We Five, to become a worldwide #1 hit single. Both songs, solidified their individual status as hit-making songwriters.

In honour this historic musical collaboration, Stony Plain Records has released Ian & Sylvia The Lost Tapes. The album is culled from newly-discovered concert tapes from the early ‘70s, and never-before-heard versions of country and pop classics, cementing their reputations as performers  who pushed  the boundaries of folk, blues, country, rhythm and blues, and rock ‘n roll.

“The pivotal role of Ian & Sylvia in music history may be their refusal to  be trapped in the patterns of their past as one of the leading acts of the '60s folk era,” notes Canadian music industry journalist Larry LeBlanc. “Along with the Byrds, Gram Parsons, Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson, Ian & Sylvia laid the foundation of Canadian country music and Americana music that evolved as a recognized source of popular culture.”

Ian, who loves the cowboy way of life living on his ranch in Longview, Alberta, performs his own Western influenced repertoire;  Sylvia continues to have thriving solo career while performing, writing, and recording with Quartette with Caitlin Hanford, Cindy Church, and Gwen Swick.

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Michael Raine is the Senior Editor at Canadian Musician. He is also a co-host of the popular Canadian Musician Radio weekly podcast.