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Ritchie, Jean (1922–)

Ritchie, Jean (1922–)

American folksinger and folklorist. Born in Viper, KY, Dec 8, 1922; attended Cumberland College in Williamsburg, KY; University of Kentucky in Lexington, AB, 1946; m. George Pickow (photographer), 1950.

Dedicated to preserving traditional songs of the Cumberland Mountain region of Appalachia, served briefly as a teacher in KY before moving to NY to work as a music counselor at Henry St. Settlement; began to sing and play the dulcimer; made 1st solo appearance at Greenwich Mews Playhouse (1950) and could be heard on radio; received Fulbright grant to travel throughout England, Scotland, and Ireland to trace origins of Appalachian folksongs (1952); published The Swapping Song Book (1952) and a portrait of her family, Singing Family of the Cumberlands (1955), which received favorable reviews; sang to great acclaim at 1st annual Newport (RI) Folk Festival (1959), of which she was one of the original directors; was central in inspiring the American folk music renaissance (1960s); issued 2-vol. album British Traditional Ballads in the Southern Mountains (1960), The Appalachian Dulcimer (1964), High Hills and Mountains (1979), and None But One (1981), which received the Rolling Stone Critics Award as best folk album of the year; also wrote original material, "The L&N Don't Stop Here Anymore," "Black Waters," and "Blue Diamond Mine," among others; recorded and performed with a number of notable folk musicians, including Doc Watson, Odetta, Sonny Terry, and Brownie McGhee, and was joined on later albums by her sons; performed "Amazing Grace" on PBS video of that name.

See also Women in World History.

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