2003 Lifetime Artistic Achievement (Popular Music)
Authenticity and endurance are the trademarks of Ian Tyson, a musician who lives an uncompromising life. His art celebrates his unique personality and the life he has chosen, while his songs tell the stories of his people and his home.
Born in Victoria, he spent his early years in Alberta learning about ranching and music. Once, the rodeo was all Ian wanted, but the accident that ended that career possibility was a happy one for lovers of the pure, sweet music he has created throughout his remarkable dual career. He learned to play guitar while recuperating in a Calgary hospital, then hitchhiked to Toronto where he sang in the coffee-houses, teaming up with Sylvia Fricker to form the sensational Sixties folk duo that was to become world famous. After more than a dozen albums, their style evolved into the country-rock sound of The Great Speckled Bird, and they were featured on numerous television shows. Ian and Sylvia went their separate ways in the mid-70s.
Following his move back to Alberta, Ian experienced a musical renaissance inspired by his need to make a statement about "Western" culture as a thing apart from mainstream North American culture. His current success, marked by a Juno Award and many other honours, is based on a commitment to a sound that is both deeply personal and very deeply felt, and has brought the cowboy story-song into the postmodern era.
A consummate artist who shuns the glamour of the bright lights in favour of the call of the wild, Ian has always believed in living life and making music on his own terms. Today he manages to balance a demanding life of composing, touring the continent and recording with the arduous life of a rancher, breeding and training his beloved cutting horses.
Ian Tyson was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1995.