One voice can be powerful, but four have taken Quartette through a 20-year career.
Sylvia Tyson, Cindy Church, Caitlin Hanford and Gwen Swick have been performing and recording together as Quartette for 20 years, recently releasing 10 tracks of original material and an album reflecting their favourites over two decades. The group performs at The Celtic Circle July 19. SUBMITTED.
Sylvia Tyson suspects each artist’s solo career has contributed to the group’s success.
“We’re all mature musicians,” she said, adding that they had already been in the music business for many years when they formed in 1993.
Tyson, Cindy Church, Caitlin Hanford and Gwen Swick bring their genre transcending harmonies to The Celtic Circle later this month, a return show for Tyson who performed at the space in 2011 as a solo endeavor.
The group, whose influences include blues, folk and jazz, recently released a new album, Rocks and Roses, and a 10-track collection of their favourites over two decades.
Choosing which songs would make the cut was an interesting experience, Church said.
She sat in Tyson’s home, looking at a pile of all of their music, six full-length albums, as the group decided which ones reflected their sound.
“We have done a lot in 20 years, haven’t we?” Church remembers saying, and laughing.
The choices reflect the group’s favourites, but not necessarily what the fans would want, Tyson said.
With the two CD package, all of the songs, except for one Gordon Lightfoot cover, have been written by one of the women, as most of their material is.
Though a democratic system, Tyson said, all of them have had their material turned down by the group, simply because it wouldn’t work with the harmonies and sound.
They rarely select other songwriters’ material, either.
They’ve done well for themselves, receiving Juno Award nominations, and a Canadian Country Music Award for best vocal collaboration.
“We have done a lot in 20 years, haven’t we?” - Cindy Church
“It’s as much about the friendships as it is about musical relationships,” Church said.
Tyson is well known as being one half of folk duo Ian & Sylvia, recording 13 albums through the 1960s and 1970s, and has also made 10 albums as a solo artist.
Her long storied career has earned her a spot in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Order of Canada.
All four women have a long list of collaborations and accomplishments.
Swick joined Quartette as Colleen Peterson’s replacement after the original member lost her battle with cancer.
Swick has three solo albums as well as spot in the Marigolds, which also includes Quartette member and music teacher Caitlin Hanford.
Church, originally from Bible Hill, grew up as many Nova Scotians do, she said, surrounded by music.
It led her to recordings on her own as well as with Ian Tyson as part of the Chinook Arch Riders and on his solo albums, trio Great Western Orchestra, a tribute band for Hoagy Carmichael, and Lunch at Allen’s.
Quartette performs at the Celtic Circle on July 19 at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $30 and are available at Big Al’s, The White Lotus or by calling the Celtic Circle.
On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda