Kossoy Sisters
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Kossoy Sisters
Kossoy Sisters
Born(1938-05-11)May 11, 1938
New York City, New York, U.S.
OriginGreenwich Village, New York City
1956 - 1960s, 1981, 2002-2003
Erik Darling, Tony Saletan
MembersIrene Saletan, Ellen Christenson (born Irene and Ellen Kossoy)

The Kossoy Sisters are identical twin sisters (Irene Saletan and Ellen Christenson [1]) who performed American folk and old time music. In their music, Irene sang mezzo-soprano vocal, and Ellen supplied soprano harmony, with Irene on guitar and Ellen played the 5-string banjo in a traditional up-picking technique. Their performances were notable examples of close harmonies singing. 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.

The sisters were born on May 11, 1938 in New York City, United States. 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 life-long 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.[2]

When they were seventeen, they recorded the album Bowling Green which features the sisters' close harmonies and accompaniment by Erik Darling.[3] The duo were introduced to a new audience when their version of "I'll Fly Away" from this album was used in the 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou?.[4] Another song from the same album, the Kossoys' version of "Single Girl, Married Girl," is heard on the soundtrack of the 2014 film release Obvious Child.[5]

They performed in the first Newport Folk Festival in 1959[2] and returned to Newport to perform again in 2012, over 50 years later. They also were in the original stage production of Woody Guthrie's "Bound for Glory" and at the Fox Hollow Folk Festival in Petersburgh, NY.[6] They toured California in 1981 and have appeared in the Boston area, Washington DC, New York, Pinewoods Camp, various venues in the St. Louis area and numerous other locations.[]

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."[3]

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, during their marriage, as Tony and Irene Saletan. They released an album together, 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.


  • Bowling Green, Tradition 1956 [7] (rereleased by Rykodisc in 1996, Released again by Rykodisc as part of the three-disc set The Best of the Bluegrass Tradition (although the music on the Kossoys' recording is not bluegrass)
  • Hop on Pretty Girls, Living Folk 2002
  • Kossoy Sisters, Recording of an interview from the National Public Radio program "On Point", February 23, 2003
  • Banjo Music of the Southern Appalachians, Erik Darling, Olympic (date unknown) (The Kossoy Sisters appear on this record).
  • Instrumental Music and Songs of Southern Appalachians, Erik Darling (The last ten tracks of this CD, uncredited but all sung by the Kossoy Sisters, appear to be copied from Banjo Music of the Southern Appalachians).

See also


  1. ^ "The Kossoy Sisters". www.kossoysisters.com. Archived from the original on 12 July 2017. Retrieved 2017.
  2. ^ a b countrystandardtime.com Archived 2009-02-15 at the Wayback Machine, O Kossoy Sisters Where Art Thou Been?, interview. Retrieved June 18, 2008
  3. ^ a b "The Timeless Kossoy Sisters". WBUR. 2003-02-21. Archived from the original on 2008-06-22.
  4. ^ "The Kossoy Sisters - Biography & History - AllMusic". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 30 January 2014. Retrieved 2017.
  5. ^ Trooper. "The Obvious Child Soundtrack List". SoundtrackMania. Retrieved 2018.
  6. ^ Kossoy Sisters, with Tony Saletan & Robin Christenson. ""Belle Starr" (Fox Hollow 1971)". YouTube. David Usher. Archived from the original on December 5, 2015. Retrieved 2014.
  7. ^ "Bowling Green - Erik Darling, Ellen Kossoy, Irene Kossoy - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic. Archived from the original on 18 January 2016. Retrieved 2017.

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