The Top 5 Canadian Folk Music Artists You Need to Know

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


There’s a lot of great Canadian music out there, and the folk scene is no exception. If you’re looking to get into folk music, or just want to expand your musical horizons, here are five Canadian folk music artists you need to know.


There is a rich tradition of folk music in Canada, spanning generations and cultures. From the early days of European settlement to the present day, folk music has been an important part of the Canadian experience.

Today, there are a new generation of folk artists keeping the tradition alive, while putting their own spin on it. Here are five of the best Canadian folk music artists you need to know.

Stan Rogers

Stan Rogers was a Canadian folk singer and songwriter who was born in Hamilton, Ontario and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was best known for his work in the genre of Canadian folk music. Rogers released 13 albums during his career, and his songs have been covered by other artists such as Anne Murray, The Rankin Family, and Natalie McMaster. He died in an airplane crash in 1983 at the age of 33.

Kate & Anna McGarrigle

Kate & Anna McGarrigle were a folk music duo from Canada. The sisters were born in Montreal, Quebec, and grew up in a musical family. They began performing together in the 1960s and released their debut album in 1968. The duo was highly influential in the Canadian folk music scene, and their songs have been covered by many artists including Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, and Judy Collins.

The McGarrigle sisters retired from performing in 2010, but their legacy continues to live on through their music. If you’re a fan of Canadian folk music, then here are five Kate & Anna McGarrigle tracks that you need to know.

Gordon Lightfoot

Born in Orillia, Ontario, in 1938, Gordon Lightfoot is one of Canada’s most celebrated folk musicians. A singer-songwriter with a career spanning more than five decades, Lightfoot’s songs have been covered by everyone from Bob Dylan to Barbra Streisand. He has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the American Songwriters Hall of Fame, and he has received five Grammy nominations. Among his best-known songs are “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”, “Sundown”, and “Carefree Highway”.

Joni Mitchell

Joni Mitchell is a Canadian singer-songwriter who first came to prominence in the late 1960s with her critically acclaimed album “Clouds”. Since then, she has gone on to release a string of successful albums and become one of the most respected and influential folk music artists of her generation. Her lyrics are often highly personal and introspective, and her music has been covered by a wide range of artists including Bob Dylan, James Taylor, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

Leonard Cohen

The late, great Leonard Cohen was one of the most influential singer-songwriters of his generation. A true poet, his lyrics are known for their deep insight, dark humor, and religious imagery. Cohen’s music spans a wide range of genres, from folk to pop to rock to classical. He is perhaps best known for his song “Hallelujah,” which has been covered by numerous artists over the years.

Neil Young

Neil Young is a Canadian singer-songwriter who is widely regarded as one of the most influential musicians of his generation. He began his career with the folk-rock band Buffalo Springfield, before embarking on a solo career that has spanned more than five decades. Throughout his career, Young has released a vast array of work, including folk, rock, country, and blues. He is also a political activist, and has been involved in campaigns for social and environmental justice.

Bruce Cockburn

Folk music is an important part of Canadian culture, and there are many talented artists who perform this style of music. If you’re looking for some new folk music to enjoy, here are five Canadian artists you need to know.

Bruce Cockburn is a singer-songwriter from Ottawa, Ontario. He has released more than 30 albums over his career, and his music covers a wide range of genres including folk, rock, and jazz. Cockburn is a highly acclaimed artist who has won numerous awards, including the Order of Canada.

The Wailin’ Jennys are a trio from Winnipeg, Manitoba. They perform a mix of original songs and traditional folk tunes. The Jennys have released seven studio albums, and their music has been featured on popular television shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and One Tree Hill.

Buffy Sainte-Marie is a Cree singer-songwriter from Saskatchewan. She is a well-known activist who has been involved in various social causes throughout her career. Sainte-Marie’s music often reflects her activism, and she has won several awards for her work, including an Oscar for the song “Up Where We Belong.”

Leonard Cohen was a singer-songwriter from Montreal, Quebec. He was one of the most influential folk musicians of his generation and released 14 studio albums over his career. Cohen passed away in 2016, but his music continues to be enjoyed by fans around the world.

Gordon Lightfoot is a singer-songwriter from Orillia, Ontario. He is one of the most successful Canadian musicians of all time, with more than 20 million records sold worldwide. Lightfoot has been inducted into both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

The Tragically Hip

The Tragically Hip is a Canadian rock band from Kingston, Ontario. They are considered one of the most influential Canadian bands of all time. The Hip’s music is often unconventional and experimental, and they are known for their distinctive sound and lyrics. The band has released 14 studio albums, and their most recent, Man Machine Poem, was released in 2016.

Shaye Cohen

Shaye Cohen is a Canadian folk music artist who has been making waves in the music scene for her unique blend of traditional and contemporary sounds. Cohen’s music is rooted in the tradition of Canadian folk music, but she infuses her own style and personality into her songs, making them instantly recognizable and memorable. Cohen has released two albums, “The Northern Town” and “The Long Way Home,” both of which have received critical acclaim. If you’re a fan of folk music, then Shaye Cohen is an artist you need to know about.

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