|Ellen and Irene, the Kossoy Sisters, shopping at San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico market 2013, we love them (and they are great traveling companions)!|
¨The Kossoy Sisters are identical twin sisters (Irene Saletan and Ellen Christenson ) who perform American folk and old time music. In their music, Irene sings mezzo soprano vocal, and Ellen supplies soprano harmony, with Irene on guitar and Ellen playing the 5-string banjo in a traditional up-picking technique. Their performances are notable examples of close harmoniessinging. They began performing professionally in their mid teens and are esteemed as a significant part of the popular folk music movement that started in the mid-1950s.
|HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY MOMMIES, Coban de las Gemelas|
The sisters were born on May 11, 1938 in New York City, USA. The twins began singing together at about the age of six, in imitation of harmonies created in the home by their mother and aunt. At fifteen they attended a summer camp at which Pete Seeger and other well-known folk singers often performed, and they developed a lifelong attachment to the genre. They quickly discovered the bustling folk music scene in the Greenwich Village section of New York City and mingled with the people who congregated in Washington Square Park.
|I ALSO LOVE MY MOMMIES, Calvin de las Gemelas|
When they were seventeen, they recorded the album Bowling Green which features the sisters' close harmonies and accompaniment by Erik Darling. The duo were introduced to a new audience when their version of "I'll Fly Away" from this album was used in the film O Brother, Where Art Thou?.
They performed in the first Newport Folk Festival in 1959. They also were in the original stage production of Woody Guthrie's "Bound for Glory" and at the Fox Hollow Folk Festival inPetersburgh, NY. They toured California in 1981 and have appeared in the Boston area, Washington DC, New York Pinewood Camp, various venues in the St. Louis area and numerous other locations.
|The Newport Folk Festival 2012|
|Folk singing friends forever: Sarah Grey from Scotland visits Irene and Ellen, December 2012 |
A second CD, "Hop on Pretty Girls," appeared in 2002 on the Living Folk label. A non-commercial CD, "Kossoy Sisters," is available from Public Radio Station WBUR in Boston. It is a recording of an interview with the twins on February 23, 2003, during their promotional tour for "Hop on Pretty Girls."
|The 2012 Holiday Season in Guatemala: Ellen Christianson, at home entertaining friends|
Irene and Ellen attended local schools in New York and went on to graduate from Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois. Soon after completion of their formal studies, the sisters married. Ellen moved to St. Louis and Irene settled in the Boston area. Irene and her former husband Anthony D. ("Tony") Saletan performed together for some time as Tony and Irene Saletan when Tony was Irene's current husband. They released an album themselves, Folk Songs and Ballads, in 1970 on Folk-Legacy Records. Over the years the sisters have continued to perform live while also immersing themselves in the responsibilities of family life. Ellen has a son and a daughter, and Irene has a son and a daughter...¨
|Irene and Ellen with Sherry, a recent festive dinner party in San Miguel Dueñas|
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR IRENE AND ELLEN, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU (and many, many more)
|Irene and Ellen at the Tropic of Capricorn, 2013|
|The Kossoy Sisters and Dick Weissman playing the banjo. (Photo-Sound Associates Photographs, Ron Cohen Collection (#20239), Southern Folklife Collection. Louis Round Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.)— with Irene Saletan and Dick Weissman.|
|Irene: Salta, Argentina, 2013-¨there was this big guitar on the street so Ellen took a picture of me playing it. Couldn't reach the pegs to tune it though.¨|
THEIR JOYOUS HARMONY PLAYS ON