Over a sad, drawling fiddle, Sarah Hawker and Debra Clifford of the Lonesome Sisters sing, “I’ll pull down the shades of time / and I’ll kiss every star in your mind / and I’ll be the night just to see you shine / Just follow me down.” Their voices clasp so closely in harmony against the sparse strumming of a 1953 Gibson Southern Jumbo acoustic (“the third Lonesome Sister”), it is easy to imagine a lifetime spent perfecting this kind of singing, that this kind of songwriting comes only from painstaking years of trial and refining. Not so.

“I only started singing in front of people five years ago,” Hawker says. “Before that I was deathly afraid. My grandfather, who was my greatest inspiration, passed away. He sang primitive Baptist and country music and blues. And when we had the funeral, my aunt asked me to sing. I thought, ‘If I can’t get over my fear enough to sing at my grandfather’s funeral, there is something really wrong with me.’ So that was the first time I ever sang in front of people. It was like his last gift to me.” Soon after, Hawker met Clifford at a music camp in upstate New York. “We met and we sang a Hank Williams song together. And then we sang it for three hours,” Hawker laughs. “‘Lonesome Whistle.’”

Word soon spread about the duo’s powerful harmonies and they started receiving invitations to folk festivals. Hawker found herself playing her first gig at the popular GrassRoots Festival in front of thousands of people. More shows followed, and Hawker won the Chris Austin Songwriting Award for best country song at the 2004 Merlefest for “Forgiveness”—the second song she ever wrote. Eventually, Hawker quit her office job in New York, and then left the city itself. “It was just becoming too crazy trying to have a full time job and do this too. And more than that, I felt that New York City didn’t give me the space I needed to create music. It is just a constant intake of stuff all the time, and I just needed a slower pace.”

Now living in Woodstock, New York, Hawker is doing odd jobs to make ends meet. With each record, her voice—singing and writing—gets stronger and more confident. “I realized that singing and playing music is an incredibly important part of being alive for me, and if I wasn’t going to do that with my life, that would be really sad,” she says. “So I basically just set out on a mission and forced myself to do it.”

<BODY> <H1>Table of Contents</H1> <UL> <LI><a href="memphissoulsurvivors.htm">Memphis Soul Survivors</a></LI> <LI><a href="viviancampbell.htm">Vivian Campbell Def Leppard</a></LI> <LI><a href="royorbison.htm">Roy Orbison</a></LI> <LI><a href="thelonesomesisters.htm">The Lonesome Sisters</a></LI> <LI><a href="jessiemaehemphill.htm">Jessie Mae Hemphill</a></LI> <LI><a href="ericclapton.htm">Eric Clapton</a></LI> <LI><a href="http://www.gibson.com">Back to Gibson</a></LI> <LI><a href="http://www.gibson.com/backstage/backissues.htm">Back Issues</a></LI> <LI><a href="http://cdbaby.com/all/debrac">Buy the CD</a></LI> <LI><a href="http://www.gibson.com/Products/Gibson%20Acoustic%20Guitars/Gibson%20Acoustic%20Guitars/Round%20Shoulder%20Dreadnought/Southern%20Jumbo/">Gibson Acoustic Southern Jumbo</a></LI> </UL> <br /><Br /> "Follow Me Down" the Lonesome Sisters from the album <i>Follow Me Down</i> </BODY>