Kentucky Folk Music Legend Jean Ritchie Dies

Jun 3, 2015

Jean Ritchie and Susan Glaze
Credit Penn State / Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Kentucky folk music legend Jean Ritchie has died.

Ritchie passed away Monday at the age of 92, according to multiple media outlets.

Born in Eastern Kentucky’s Perry County, Ritchie became a nationally recognized ambassador of Appalachian folk music.

She sang and played the dulcimer on dozens of albums and became a leading figure on the folk music scene in New York City in the 1950s and ’60s.

The New York Times said:

The youngest of 14 children in a farming family from Viper, Ky., Ms. Ritchie was a vital link in a chain of oral tradition that stretched back centuries. Her recordings and concerts — she appeared on some of the world’s celebrated stages, including Carnegie Hall in New York and the Royal Albert Hall in London — helped keep the music alive for an international listenership.

Over the years Ms. Ritchie performed jointly with some of the best-known names in folk music, including Pete Seeger and Doc Watson. She was closely associated with the Newport Folk Festival, performing at its inception in 1959 and many times afterward.

Funeral arrangements for Ritchie are pending.

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