She is noted for bringing centuries-old Appalachian ballads to the attention of international audiences.
Ritchie, who grew up in Kentucky’s Cumberland mountains, accompanied herself on the guitar, autoharp or the mountain dulcimer, as she sang with a clear soprano voice.
As part of the folk music boom of the 1950s and 1960s, she was a contemporary of such stellar artists as Doc Watson, Pete Seeger and Odetta. Ritchie influenced a generation of younger singers such as Emmylou Harris and Judy Collins.
We are preparing a longer appreciation of Jean Ritchie’s life and career for publication at a later date.