Jean Ritchie, Great American Folksinger, RIP

Below is a video with a bit more than a minute of the great folksinger Jean Ritchie talking about her songs and how she learned them. Such an impressive woman. She died recently at age 92, as reported in today’s NY Times obit. She was born in Kentucky in 1922, heard songs all her life there, then moved to New York City in the 1950s, where she became a mainstay of the budding folk song movement. She played fretted dulcimer and knew hundreds of songs from the Appalachians and the British Isles. I heard her perform at the Philadelphia Folk Festival in the late 1970s/early ’80s. Ritchie’s 1955 book—”Singing Family of the Cumberlands”—featured songs she grew up singing at home in Kentucky, with illustrations, surprisingly enough, by Maurice Sendak! The book is still in print, from University of Kentucky Press. 


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