Sylvia Tyson Happy Birthday at Hugh’s Room

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Submitted by Don Graham

Sylvia Tyson is an iconic name and talent in the fabric of Canadian music and  heritage and we  all get to see her do what she does, sing, play and entertain us with stories and songs. I can’t think of a better venue to see her in an intimate setting than Toronto’s number one listening room, Hugh’s Room. And it’s a birthday celebration as well. Sylvia wants you all to know, “I always look forward to playing Hugh's Room, one of the few true listening rooms in Toronto. It's also a pleasure to be doing so with Scarlet Rivera. We did a California tour a couple of years ago and built up a great rapport. Randall Kempf will be joining us on bass. It will be a great way to celebrate my 77th birthday.”

Sylvia  started performing professionally in 1959 as one-half of Ian and Sylvia, the groundbreaking folk duo that burst onto the scene during the great folk revival of the ‘60s. The first song she wrote 'You Were On My Mind' was in 1962. I remember a few years ago she told me “I wrote that song while looking out the window of my apartment in the Village. I never really thought it would be such a huge hit.”  'You Were on My Mind' was originally recorded by Ian & Sylvia in 1964. The song became a massive 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 since then.

Throughout the sixties and early seventies, Ian and Sylvia put out  thirteen albums and toured continuously in North America and Europe, while being managed by Albert Grossman who also managed  Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary, The Band, and Janis Joplin. Sylvia talks of the time when folk music changed. “We were in Newport, and Bob Dylan came on stage with an electric guitar. No acoustic, no harmonica. There were traditional folk artists with tears running down their cheeks at seeing the end of an era. The truth is when The Beatles came on the scene everything changed in the musical world. I liked The Beatles music, it was just time for a change. We didn’t actively know it at the time but that is what changed everything.” Ian and Sylvia went their separate ways in 1977.

Sylvia Tyson is also active as a broadcaster, and as well as performing with Quartette in addition to her own solo appearances. When asked how she would feel starting out now in the current songwriting music scene she had this to say. “I would find it very scary. Back then we all performed together. There was no competition. It was a music scene. Now there is so much competition.” This said from a woman who Mama Cass thanked for being the trailblazer in her craft.

She is also a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, The Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, and has received Canada’s highest civilian honour, The Order of Canada.

In 1985 she co-edited with Tom Russell a songwriter book entitled “And Then I Wrote – The Songwriter Speaks”, a collection of quotes from songwriters about their craft from Stephen Foster to Stevie Wonder.

So if you’re in the area of Toronto don’t miss this chance to see a living legend up close and personal at Hugh’s Room, one night only September 19th. Contact Hugh’s Room to reserve your tickets now at wwwhughsroom.com.