Colleen Susan Peterson (November 14, 1950 - October 9, 1996) was a Canadian country and folk singer, who performed both as a solo artist and as a member of the band Quartette.

Career

Born in Peterborough, Ontario, her family moved to Ottawa when she was 10 years old, where she attended Ridgemont High School. She began performing in coffeehouses in 1966, and soon attracted the attention of other notable folk musicians such as Bruce Cockburn and David Wiffen. She won an RPM Gold Leaf Award for Most Promising Female Vocalist in 1967 and, in 1968, joined Cockburn, Wiffen, Richard Patterson and Dennis Pendrith in a later version of the folk band 3's a Crowd. In 1970, she was cast in the Canadian production of Hair.

She subsequently moved to Kingston in 1971, forming the band Spriggs and Bringle with Mark Haines. She then relocated to Nashville in 1974, and released her first solo album, Beginning to Feel Like Home, in 1976. She had a hit single on the Billboard country charts with "Souvenirs", and won a Juno Award for Most Promising Female Vocalist in 1977.

Following her 1978 album Taking My Boots Off, Peterson did not record new material for several years, although she appeared on two albums by the Charlie Daniels Band in 1980 and 1981. She continued to perform, however, touring with Gordon Lightfoot, Tom Waits and Ry Cooder, hosting television specials and appearing on Spirit of the Country and The Tommy Hunter Show, and working as a backing vocalist for Waylon Jennings, Roger Miller, Janie Fricke and Marty Stuart. Artists such as Anne Murray, Ronnie Prophet and Sylvia Tyson also recorded Peterson's songs.

In 1986 Peterson released the single "I Had it All", which was a hit on the Canadian country charts and launched the most successful phase of her career. She released the album Basic Facts, her first in ten years, in 1988, and had a string of ten hits, including "No Pain, No Gain", which hit #1 on the Canadian country charts in 1991.

In 1993, she joined Tyson, Caitlin Hanford and Cindy Church for a one-off concert at Toronto's Harbourfront, and the four later also appeared together on CBC Radio's Morningside and on A Prairie Home Companion in the United States. Due to favourable audience response to the collaboration, they continued to work together, adopting the name Quartette and releasing their first album in 1994. She toured and recorded with the band until 1996, when she was diagnosed with cancer. Unable to perform with the band during her cancer treatment, she chose her friend and collaborator Gwen Swick to fill in for her, and died in Toronto on October 9 of that year, aged only 45. She is buried in Little Lake Cemetery in Peterborough, Ontario.

Tributes

She was posthumously inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 2000. In 2003, the Colleen Peterson Songwriting Award, an award for young emerging songwriters, was created in her memory. In 2004, her friend and songwriting partner Nancy Simmonds worked with several musicians to produce a new album, Postcards from California, from unreleased demos she had recorded with Peterson in the early 1990s.