During the early-'60s folk revival, Canadian duo Ian Tyson (b. 1933) and Sylvia Tyson (b. 1940) made some wonderful albums. While these recordings may not all stand the test of time, they were overlooked influences upon early folk-rockers such as the Jefferson Airplane, the We Five, the Mamas and the Papas, and Fairport Convention, all of whom used similar blends of male/female lead/harmony vocals. They were also inspirations to fellow Canadian singer-songwriters such as Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and Gordon Lightfoot.
Like most acoustic folkies, after the mid-'60s they tried their hand at folk-rock and country-rock, but the only good result of this was their
Tyson took up folk music in his 20s while trying to recover from a rodeo injury, and teamed up with Sylvia Fricker after moving to Toronto in the late '50s. In 1960, they moved to New York, where they were signed by Albert Grossman, famous for managing Bob Dylan and Peter, Paul, and Mary. Their self-titled debut (1962) began a successful series of recordings for Vanguard, on which they helped expand the range of folk by adding bass (sometimes played by Spike Lee's father Bill) and mandolin to Ian's guitar and Sylvia's autoharp.
Even though they tended to cover songs written by others, Tyson's Four Strong Winds was covered by the Searchers and (in the '70s) Neil Young, and Fricker's You Were On My Mind, was a hit for the We Five.
If you want a good taste of why they have been so popular with a select few, try Four Strong Winds, Play One More, and Early Morning Rain. These are some sweet voices.