Monday, May 5, 2014


Image of Quartette from festivalplace

This remarkable Canadian group was formed in 1993 by solo artists Sylvia Tyson and Cindy Church, along with Caitlin Hanford and Colleen Peterson. Peterson died in 1996, Gwen Swick joined, and Quartette went on.

The blend of female voices is even lovelier than their lyrics. From the early album Work of the Heart, Spring of 45 portrays the reunion of a returning soldier with his wife and the son he sees his son "for the very first time."

This image is hauntingly beautiful. Rain falls "like a gift from Heaven" as two laughing women hurry their laundry from the line, still unaware of the approach of the returned soldier. From the same album, Runaway Heart and Street of the Mariachi are amazing, and very different songs.

Sylvia Tyson is a great songwriter who penned such hits as You were on my mind (1962), a hit for We Five and the British singer Crispian St. Peters. An early favourite of mine was Farewell to the North, sung with Ian Tyson, when the two sang together as Ian and Sylvia.

As a member and supporter of various art organizations including the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, Sylvia has also worked hard for fellow artists, and been awarded The Order of Canada.

Lyrics are not Sylvia's only writing passion. As far back as 1985, she co-edited a book of quotations by songwriters. In 2011, she published her first novel, Joyner's Dream, and is working on a second.

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