Women Music March 2022 – Day 7 – Jean Ritchie

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b5/Jean_Ritchie.png/419px-Jean_Ritchie.png
Jean Ritchie, wikipedia commons image, no date listed

Jean Ruth Ritchie (December 8, 1922 – June 1, 2015) was an American folk singer, songwriter, and Appalachian dulcimer player, called by some the “Mother of Folk”. In her youth she learned hundreds of folk songs in the traditional way (orally, from her family and community), many of which were Appalachian variants of centuries old British and Irish songs, including dozens of Child Ballads. In adulthood, she shared these songs with wide audiences, as well as writing some of her own songs using traditional foundations. She is ultimately responsible for the revival of the Appalachian dulcimer, the traditional instrument of her community, which she popularized by playing the instrument on her albums and writing tutorial books. She inspired a wide array of musicians, including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Shirley Collins, Joni Mitchell, Emmylou Harris and Judy Collins.

Ritchie was married to photographer George Pickow from 1950 until his death in 2010, with whom she had two sons, Peter (1954-) and Jonathan (1958-2020). She lived in Port Washington, New York, and was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2008. In early December 2009, Ritchie was hospitalized after suffering a stroke which impaired her ability to communicate. She recovered to some degree then returned to her home in Berea, Kentucky. A friend reported on her 90th birthday, “Jean has been living quietly in Berea for the last few years, in good spirits and well cared for by neighbors and family.” She died at home in Berea on June 1, 2015, aged 92.

Discography and Bibliography:
35 albums between 1952 – 2002
8 books between 1955 – 1971

One thing to share:
In 1952, Ritchie was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to trace the links between American ballads and the songs from England, Scotland and Ireland. As a song-collector, she began by setting down the 300 songs that she already knew from her mother’s knee. Ritchie and her husband George Pickow spent 18 months tape recording, interviewing and photographing singers, including Elizabeth Cronin, Tommy and Sarah Makem, Leo Rowsome, and Seamus Ennis in Ireland, Jeannie Robertson and Jimmy MacBeath in Scotland, and Harry Cox and Bob Roberts in England. When people asked what sort of songs they were looking for, Ritchie would sometimes ask them if they knew Barbara Allen and sing a few verses for them. In 1954, Ritchie released some of the British and Irish recordings on the album Field Trip, side by side with Ritchie family versions of the same songs; a broader selection was issued by Folkways on the two LPs Field Trip–England (1959) and As I Roved Out (Field Trip–Ireland) (1960). Some transcriptions and photographs were later published in Ritchie’s book From Fair to Fair: Folksongs of the British Isles (1966).

Official website: no official one but there is a Library of Congress site with great info here

Source: wikipedia

15 Comments Add yours

  1. writingwhatnots says:

    I have not come across Jean Ritchie before – what a passion she obviously had for folk songs, and for preserving its culture. I’ve just been listening to ‘Hangman’ – the Appalachian dulcimer has such a unique sound. Thank you Lisa – learning about someone like this is always appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Marion, so pleased you got enjoyment out of the post, thank you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Badfinger (Max) says:

    I have a Dulcimer somewhere…watching her makes me want to drag it out! Of course she is great at it…she has a rhythm with her voice and Dulcimer that can’t be beat. Great artist Lisa…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Max, what the heck are you waiting for, pull that dulcimer into the light and let it shine! This particular video not only brings joy it brings a smile to my face at how Pete is trying get too familiar and do some mansplaining and how her quiet mastery of the scene is exerted. I love this woman! I wish I could have met her.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Badfinger (Max) says:

        This music was the newspapers to some people…all the stories would be in the song which is wonderful. She seemed so genuine… I didnt’ even recognize Pete Seeger until you said something! It wasn’t about money, fame, or attention…it was about the story…the song.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Very cool post, Lisa. I’m also intrigued by this instrument.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      I remember one of the oldtimers in our family had a beautiful harpsichord. I wonder where it is now.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow, that’s an impressive instrument!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. memadtwo says:

    I too have a dulcimer…the last time I took it out was when Jean Ritchie died–and not since. A legend. (K)
    https://methodtwomadness.wordpress.com/2015/06/27/jean-ritchie-1922-2015/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      I’ll tell you what I told Max, pull that critter out and have strum! Just read your other post. A legend is right!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. memadtwo says:

        It’s on that long long list…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Carol anne says:

    she’s good!
    I like her sound! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. msjadeli says:

      Goody! 🙂

      Like

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