The Lonesome Sisters
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The Lonesome Sisters

Band Americana Acoustic


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The best kept secret in music


"Our first CD review"


The Lonesome Sisters are comprised of vocalist Sarah Hawker and Debra Clifford on vocals and guitar. If the name Hawker seems familiar, Sarah is the niece of master traditional vocalist Ginny Hawker. Sarah was also one of the recipients of the prestigious Chris Austin Songwriter's Award at Merlefest 2004.

It's fascinating to trace the progress of musical talent and these two recordings, while released within a year of each other, show a tremendous development in the duo's performing style and songwriting ability. The Lonesome Sisters, released in 2003, features bell-clear vocals and stirring harmonies from Hawker and Clifford and the selections focus mostly on traditional standards and well-chosen classics from Carter Stanley, Blind Willie Johnson and Hugh Moffatt. The Sisters are ably accompanied by Rose Sinclair on banjo and Chad Crumm on the fiddle.

It becomes apparent that the listener is in for a special treat from the first track. Carter Stanley's classic "Could You Love Me One more Time" is presented with great emotion and just the sound of two wonderful voices and a lone guitar. This sets the style for the rest of the CD, songs sung magnificently with just simple accompaniment. Later in the recording the traditional "Elkhorn Ridge" is sung to the sound of a lone banjo and "Pretty Saro" is presented a cappella - just two voices entwined in simple harmony.

The contrast between the two recordings is most notable in the inclusion of many more original selections on Going Home Shoes as well as a slightly fuller sound. The Sisters are accompanied by bassist June Drucker and Riley Baugus on lead guitar, banjo, fiddle and vocals.

The recording opens with Debra Clifford's wonderful "God's Golden Key" a spiritually based song depicting the "rewards untold." Sarah Hawker's "Forgiveness," the award winning song from Merlefest, is a story of the search for mercy and the woman who refuses to grant any. Comparisons to Lyle Lovett's "God Will" are inevitable. Yet another fine Hawker original is "Token Reminder." The song would be wonderful for Sarah's Aunt Ginny to add to her repertoire of heartbreak songs.

Let's not overlook Riley's contribution to Going Home Shoes. His banjo is on at least half of the selections and he offers a tender version of "I Met with Wild Bill Jones," a tune known mostly for its rollicking nature. The recording concludes with "Highlander's Farewell" featuring Riley's fiddle and Debra's steady guitar. Debra Clifford and Sarah Hawker have produced two recordings of great tenderness and beauty. Anyone who is a fan of wonderful harmony singing and well-written songs will truly enjoy the work of The Lonesome Sisters.
-Tom Druckenmiller, Sing Out! Fall 2004

- SingOut!

"Review from Bob Harris"

'My listeners and I love the Lonesome Sisters music. Warm, authentic and beautifully crafted, the albums are a joy". -Bob Harris Country, BBC RADIO 2


"Ram Radio Review"

"At Ram Radio our motto is "Listen to the Circle...Unbroken!" The Lonesome Sisters embody that spirit and we are proud to play their music". -Pam McCluskey, Ram Radio - Ram Radio


The Lonesome Sisters
Going Home Shoes: The Lonesome Sisters with Riley Baugus
Both CDs are played in regular rotation on many stations in the US and Europe, including BBC2 radio.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Sarah Hawker learned about traditional Appalachian singing from her aunt, master traditional vocalist Ginny Hawker, and her grandfather, Ben Hawker. Mr. Hawker was recorded by the Smithsonian as one of the last of an era of Primitive Baptist singers. Sarah is the winner of the 2004 Merlefest Songwriting Contest in the Country Music catagory for her song "Forgiveness." Her song "Going Home Shoes" was included in "SingOut!" magazine's 2004 compilation CD.

Debra Clifford is an accomplished musician who has played in bluegrass, country, and swing bands for over 30 years. She has performed with John Hoffmann, and Rounder recording artist Mac Benford. She currently performs with Ginny Hawker & Tracy Schwarz, and in Joe Thrift's old time fiddle band, jimmyjohnnyjoe.