I have just posted the lyrics of The Two Sisters on the Songs page of this site, because it is a song I have recently relearned and want to share it with you all.
I used to sing it when I was involved with the Vancouver Folk Song Society, an organization that has been meeting twice a month since 1958, sustaining a nourishing environment for people who love to sing folk songs. As I am working on initiating some sort of new folk music organization here in Ottawa I have been thinking of this group and how valuable it was in my life.
I learned from the singers of the VFSS that it is possible, indeed desirable, to sing unaccompanied, letting the pure beauty of the melody convey the words and tell a story, without the distraction of instrumentation. This style also allowed me to develop as a singer in a way that had not until then been possible. Before my exposure to this kind of singing I had sung along with the guitarists, who determined the songs we sang and the keys in which we sang them. While this practice helped me learn to harmonize, it was the singing of traditional ballads and other folk songs that gave me the power to choose and learn my own material, singing the songs in the right key and tempo for me. Traditional folk songs gave me a voice of my own.
Apart from the drama of the story, there is another reason I love singing songs like this in groups: the repeating chorus every other line, over the course of a long song, induces a kind of trance in me when I participate, either leading or following along. It is the closest I get to religious experience and it is accessible to everyone, regardless of belief or spiritual path.
I hope our idea of a new folk music project blossoms into something that can nurture the singing and playing of others, as I was nurtured in the early 1970s by the Vancouver Folk Song Society and its regular gatherings.