The music of Veljo Tormis (b. 1930) became well-established in Estonia during the 1960s yet remained little known in the West until the fall of Communism. By incorporating traditional Estonian folk song, regilaul, into his works, Tormis’s name became closely associated for Estonians with upholding a sense of national identity against the Soviet regime. It is his vast output of some 500 choral songs for which he is most immediately recognised; indeed, once regilaul had come to dominate the ‘Tormis style’, he dedicated himself almost exclusively to choral composition. This paper examines regilaul, its impact on Tormis during his formative years, and its integration into his mature compositional style, leading him to claim that he had ‘found his voice’ as a composer.