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Museum of Civilization honours Canadian music icon Ian Tyson

Canadian folk and Western music legend Ian Tyson has won the Canadian Museum of Civilization’s Resonance Award for his outstanding lifetime contributions to Canada’s musical heritage. Dr. Sheldon Posen, the Museum’s Director of Ethnology and Cultural Studies, will present the award on Saturday, November 20, during the Canadian Folk Music Awards gala at Winnipeg’s Pantages Playhouse.

“Ian Tyson is a Canadian icon whose songs have inspired and influenced generations of music lovers and musicians of every stripe,” said Dr. Victor Rabinovitch, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation. “The Resonance Award celebrates Canada’s musical heritage and the role of individuals in performing, preserving and promoting it. As a legendary singer, songwriter, and a pioneer in both folk and Western music, Tyson richly deserves our recognition.”

Born in Victoria in 1933, Tyson traded the itinerant logging and rodeo life of British Columbia for Toronto in the late 1950s. There, he met Sylvia Fricker and they formed the highly influential duo Ian and Sylvia, which was at the forefront of the folk music boom of the 1960s and early 1970s. He wrote some of their biggest hits, including Someday Soon and Four Strong Winds.

Four Strong Winds, like Tyson himself, has had an enduring influence for almost 50 years. It is a favourite of buskers and has been covered by an astonishing range of artists in Canada and around the world. Among the best known recordings, besides Ian and Sylvia’s, are versions by Neil Young and The Brothers Four. The song has also been performed by Johnny Cash, Bobby Bare, Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Hank Snow, Trini Lopez, Joan Baez, The Tragically Hip, The Kingston Trio, The Searchers, John Denver, Waylon Jennings, Sarah McLachlan, Warren Zevon and others. In 2005, CBC Radio listeners voted it the greatest Canadian song of all time.

After hosting the nationally televised Ian Tyson Show from 1970 to 1975, and after his marriage to Fricker ended, Tyson returned to his Western roots. He took a hiatus from music to breed and train horses on his southern Alberta ranch for a few years. When he returned to the stage, it was with a fresh repertoire of traditional and contemporary cowboy songs that launched the next phase of his music career.

Tyson’s persona as a modern cowboy with traditional values attracted a whole new audience of loyal followers. His 1987 album Cowboyography, featuring the song Navajo Rug, is considered a seminal recording in Western music. Today, at 77, he continues to write songs and perform throughout North America, and still finds time to work on his ranch. He released his most recent album, From Yellowhead to Yellowstone and Other Love Stories, in 2008.

“I consider myself a very lucky man to have been able to share my music with appreciative fans for more than 50 years,” Tyson said. “It’s an even greater honour to have had so many of my fellow musicians find new ways to interpret my songs and bring them to different audiences across Canada and around the world.”

Tyson is a member of the Order of Canada and the Alberta Order of Excellence. He has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Western Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, among others. He has received numerous other accolades, including a Juno Award and three honorary doctorates.

He is only the second person recognized with the Canadian Museum of Civilization’s Resonance Award. The first, in 2007, was Sam Gesser, the Montreal folk music promoter, impresario and record producer who introduced many Canadian performers to the world.

Image: Canadian Museum of Civilization

Canadian Museum of Civilization
100 Laurier Street
Gatineau, Quebec K1A 0M8
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819 776-7000 or 1 800 555-5621

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