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Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)

02 Jun 15 - 03:02 AM (#3713839)
Subject: Obit: Jean Ritchie 1922 - 2015
From: Dan Schatz

Dear Mudcat friends,

I received a call Monday night from Jean Ritchie's son, Jon Pickow, that Jean had just passed away. She was surrounded by members of her family, who sang at her bedside in the last hours. Her family asks that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be sent to Appalachian Voices.

There are no words to express how much Jean meant to us all, or the extent of her influence on American music and beyond. She was a friend, a teacher and a mother to generations of musicians. On the Mudcat she was our beloved KYTrad, a source of songs and wisdom and humor and good conversation.

I'm sad for all of us, but happy for Jean, who lived an amazing life and died at 92 when she was ready, surrounded by love.

Goodbye, Jean. Thank you.

02 Jun 15 - 03:08 AM (#3713840)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie 1922 - 2015
From: Little Robyn

Oh, no, too sad.
Bye Jean.
Love, Robyn

02 Jun 15 - 03:17 AM (#3713841)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Joe Offer

It was such a pleasure to know her here for a time, and to be able to correspond with her almost every day. She was a wise and wonderful woman.
May she rest easy.

02 Jun 15 - 03:20 AM (#3713842)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie 1922 - 2015
From: BigDaddy

Jean's passing leaves a big hole in our world that, I believe, can never be filled. She was a world treasure, simple yet deep, serious yet possessing a great sense of humor. She was at home whether among the wealthy or poor. In spite of her status as a "legend," she always enjoyed and took time to meet (or even email) with fans. Her contributions to world music, folk music and the world of music in general are prolific. She brought the best of our Southern mountains to the rest of the world. She took the time to show us the deep connections between Southern Appalachian music and the music of Ireland, Scotland and England. Jean didn't just celebrate life; she was a celebration of life. We are all of us incredibly fortunate to have had her among us for so long. R.I.P. sweet Jean.

02 Jun 15 - 03:24 AM (#3713845)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: GUEST,Eddie1 (Cookie lost forever)

Indeed a legend. Jean will be missed by all but what a legacy! RIP.


02 Jun 15 - 03:31 AM (#3713848)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: BrooklynJay

So sad to hear this news. She was a true legend, whose influence on lovers of traditional music can never fully be put into words.

R.I.P. Jean; you were magnificent.


02 Jun 15 - 03:50 AM (#3713852)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: GUEST,HiLo

Sad news indeed. She gave us all so much wonderful music.

02 Jun 15 - 04:04 AM (#3713858)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Will Fly

Not long after I joined Mudcat, some years ago now, I put out a thread asking if anyone knew of the address of the Appalachian dulcimer player Roger Nicholson - alas, now also deceased.

Imagine my surprise when, a few days later, I got a PM from "Kytrad". I couldn't believe it - a very nice, personal message from one of my musical heroines from way back! And, needless to say, one with Roger's London address to hand.

Bless her, and long may her memory live.

02 Jun 15 - 04:09 AM (#3713861)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Hrothgar

RIP, Jean

02 Jun 15 - 04:32 AM (#3713868)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Jim McLean

It's sad when a giant leaves us. She was so helpful to me when I was studying, looking through her vast collection for material.Nothing was too much trouble. Condolences to friends and family.

02 Jun 15 - 04:54 AM (#3713881)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: GUEST,Abb Creek, KY

My paternal grandfather's homestead was up on Abb Creek in Lawrence Co. Lost to the coal companies over a century ago and the creek silted in by mountain top removal later on. And there she was a half-century later still giving those scallawags what for. Bless her heart.

There'll be an empty place setting at the supper table tonight. RIP


02 Jun 15 - 05:07 AM (#3713886)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: GUEST,Phil

If you get a "404" on the OP clicky try Appalachian Voices

Apologies to Dan if this isn't where you were pointing.
    Thanks for catching that, Phil. I fixed the link.
    -Joe Offer-

02 Jun 15 - 05:42 AM (#3713894)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: maeve

I can't bear it. Goodbye and God bless, Jean. Thank you.


02 Jun 15 - 06:44 AM (#3713906)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Waddon Pete

Such sadness...but such a wealth of song. I have added Jean to the "In Memoriam" thread and send my condolences to all who know and love her.



02 Jun 15 - 07:34 AM (#3713915)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: gnu

RIP and thanks.

02 Jun 15 - 08:27 AM (#3713934)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Sandra in Sydney

condolences to her family & friends

02 Jun 15 - 08:49 AM (#3713943)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: GUEST,harpgirl

Godspeed, dear Jean. We at Mudcat held you in high favor and greatly appreciated your willingness to engage with us. The extent of your influence in the world of folk music can not be overestimated and our hearts go out to your friends and family in this time of sorrow. harpy

02 Jun 15 - 09:04 AM (#3713950)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)

Jean gave us a window of insight into the culture of Appalachia and her music from the Cumberlands. She was an intelligent and knowledgeable scholar of folklore in addition to her lovely performances. She brought the dulcimer into prominence in the public eye and furthered the interest in its accompaniment to the old ballads and story-songs as well as her introduction of play-party songs to the folk community. "Goodbye boys, I'm going to Boston....early in the morning. Wontcha' look pretty in the ballroom".......RIP Jean.

02 Jun 15 - 09:14 AM (#3713952)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: frogprince

Farewell to one of the loveliest of people.

02 Jun 15 - 09:28 AM (#3713960)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Steve Gardham

There aren't many left who recorded their songs on 78s. I never got to meet Jean and that is my great loss. Over a lifetime's work massively influential and highly respected.

From Yorkshire.

02 Jun 15 - 09:33 AM (#3713962)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: GUEST,Mike Yates

This really is sad news. But what a legacy she left behind! Cecil Sharp collected songs from her sisters and she continued her family tradition for such a long time. This is a person who really will be missed.

02 Jun 15 - 09:37 AM (#3713963)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: JennieG

Condolences to Jean's family.......a beautiful voice, now still. Thank goodness we have recordings.

Like Will Fly above, several years ago I emailed Jean with a question and received a very gracious reply - I was thrilled that she took the time to reply.

02 Jun 15 - 09:39 AM (#3713967)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: GUEST,Don Meixner

Some years ago my band recorded Jean's song The L & N Don't Stop Here Anymore. I knew that we could record it with the proper clearances from publishers but I sent a message to Jean asking for her permission. I received a great letter in reply. Along with her permission to do the song was a very funny anecdote about Johnny Cash recording the song.

Another of my heroes has stepped away.

02 Jun 15 - 09:41 AM (#3713969)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Northerner

I also had the pleasure of a message from Jean. RIP Jean. My condolences to your family.

02 Jun 15 - 10:28 AM (#3713984)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: wysiwyg

How much sweeter is heaven, now.


02 Jun 15 - 10:29 AM (#3713985)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: olddude

We lost another great one rip so sad

02 Jun 15 - 10:36 AM (#3713986)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: artbrooks

I never met her in person, but I feel that I knew her well through here music and talking to 'Kytrad' here. I remember my thrill the first time I encountered her in a thread and realized who was behind that handle. Thank you, Jean.

02 Jun 15 - 10:45 AM (#3713992)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: GUEST,Andymac

So sorry to hear this news. Like many, I never met her but I posted on here several years ago asking about "who had collected the L&N don't stop here..". She sent me a PM thanking me for assuming it was traditional and that it was a very high compliment indeed that.
That she would take time to help me out with no attempt to belittle my ignorance says everything to me.

RIP Jean, you will be truly missed by all of us.

02 Jun 15 - 10:55 AM (#3713994)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Alice

I told Jean about Mudcat when we started communicating with each other by email. She lurked for awhile and finally joined. I had contacted her initially when I found that she had a website, and she was very generous in taking the time to correspond by email and mail. She even wrote a review of my unaccompanied singing and we felt bonded by loving the sound of one lone singing voice.

Jean has been an inspiration to me as she was to many others, and for her to personally communicate and give me such care and attention has been a treasure. My heart goes out to her family and loved ones.

Alice in Montana

02 Jun 15 - 11:47 AM (#3714001)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: RoyH (Burl)

Another of the great ones is gone. Farewell and thank you Jean. Your music will live on.

02 Jun 15 - 12:29 PM (#3714011)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: bbc

Our lives, on this earth, will end, but Jean's heritage & her music live on! Praying comfort for her family & friends, in her loss!


02 Jun 15 - 12:55 PM (#3714017)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)

The last time I talked to Jean (I don't really remember why I called her) she told me that she had sent a strong letter to the Governor of Kentucky protesting a new road that was being built to haul coal through the mountains. The construction was going to wipe out what was left of the town she grew up in, Viper, Kentucky. She never received a reply. Except when they dedicated the new road they had the gall to name it THE JEAN RITCHIE HIGHWAY! She was laughing as she told me this story. She was a great soul and she will be missed by all those whose lives she touched.

Mark Ross

02 Jun 15 - 01:18 PM (#3714021)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)

RIP, Ms Ritchie.

02 Jun 15 - 01:19 PM (#3714022)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Bill D

Jean cared so much about preserving her wilderness and protesting what **coal** did to it. I think I will sing "Black Waters" later today--- if I can get thru it.

I was fortunate to meet Jean a couple of times, and actually get her autograph on one old LP.

We will miss her terribly.

02 Jun 15 - 01:50 PM (#3714027)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Stilly River Sage

As Art mentioned, Jean Ritchie was kytrad here at mudcat. The link goes to her 900+ posts.

Rest in peace, Ms Ritchie, and condolences to her friends and family, and the Mudcatters who worked with her and the promote her work over the years.


02 Jun 15 - 01:56 PM (#3714028)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: GUEST,Arkie

There are many apt and eloqent expressions of respect and appreciation here. I can only add a resounding Amen. I've enjoyed her music for many years and appreciate her helpful and respectful comments here at Mudcat.

02 Jun 15 - 02:04 PM (#3714030)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Elmore

One of the most loved and respected members of the folk community has left us. May she rest in peace.

02 Jun 15 - 02:25 PM (#3714032)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Don Firth

Wikipedia has a good article on Jean Ritchie HERE.

Jean's passing is a great loss. But what the world has gained from her is immeasurable.

I just found her Singing Family of the Cumberlands on my bookshelf. I read it many years ago, and I'm going to read it again….

Don Firth

02 Jun 15 - 02:36 PM (#3714037)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: GUEST,Joseph Scott

"The last time I talked to Jean... she told me that she had sent a strong letter to the Governor of Kentucky protesting a new road that was being built to haul coal through the mountains. The construction was going to wipe out what was left of the town she grew up in, Viper, Kentucky. She never received a reply. Except when they dedicated the new road they had the gall to name it THE JEAN RITCHIE HIGHWAY!"

All of that is life in a nutshell.

02 Jun 15 - 02:46 PM (#3714040)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: maeve

02 Jun 15 - 02:46 PM (#3714041)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: voyager

kytrad and doc - together again

Jean Ritchie and Doc Watson - Together at Common Ground Fest (2007)

god speed and amen

02 Jun 15 - 05:42 PM (#3714068)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: GUEST,Louise L

So sorry to hear of her passing; what a lovely lady, as was her dear husband and son. For many years I attended the parties she hosted when she lived in Port Washington, Long Island;   the music was superb; and she was as gracious and open a person as one could hope to meet; never held herself up as better than anyone. Her husband George was equally modest, tho he was a photographer of national renown; and Jon, of course, was welcoming and kind. Some of the best times I've ever had, and it was all because of the fine spirit of this woman and her loving family.

A dear dear lady, may she be blessed in heaven.

02 Jun 15 - 06:04 PM (#3714071)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Joe_F

"She was surrounded by members of her family, who sang at her bedside in the last hours." When I read that, I clapped my hands and cried.

Yes, reread that wonderful book.

02 Jun 15 - 06:29 PM (#3714080)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: The Sandman

r i p, fine singer musician and person

02 Jun 15 - 07:06 PM (#3714087)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: maeve

Both sons, George, and many other family members have worked together to support Jean's amazing, loving, and wisdom-framed life. To you all, we are thankful.


02 Jun 15 - 07:16 PM (#3714090)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: brashley46

Many happy memories of a life well lived.
And in sad counterpoint to the link posted upthread by Voyager, I read this morning that Doc Watson's grandson Merle has departed as well ...

02 Jun 15 - 07:18 PM (#3714091)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: brashley46

Eeek. I meant Richard.

02 Jun 15 - 07:34 PM (#3714094)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman

Jean, it is very hard to say goodbye to you. You have meant so much to us. As you go sailing onward to your island of dreams we just want to say how much you and your music will always mean to us.

Love from Bob and Amba Coltman

02 Jun 15 - 07:51 PM (#3714101)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: GUEST,Sheila

A highlight of my life to attend one of her parties in Port Washington, singing in the back yard, chatting with guests, accepting her gracious hospitality, just a pleasant afternoon with one of the most influential folk artists of all time. Thank you for all you have done for the the music of the world. I will never forget you. I treasure your autographed "Swapping Song Book" with photographs by George Pickow. You will always be so beautiful. Thank you.

02 Jun 15 - 09:16 PM (#3714110)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: GUEST,Gerry

My condolences to family and friends. She was one of the greats.

02 Jun 15 - 09:19 PM (#3714111)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)

Jean was my dear neighbor and friend in Port Washington, Long Island who taught me much about life and love over long cups of coffee. Before that, in about 1950 or thereabouts, she gave a concert in my school gym in NYC. I loved her songs and her singing so much that I bought her first two records with my first baby-sitting money a few years later. I learned so many of her songs growing up that they felt like my own. Later, as a bewildered woman going through a divorce, it was natural for us to become friends, a relationship that lasted long after I moved from LI to NYC and then to CT and Washington DC. I revere her singing, her repertoire, her grace as a performer, but mostly I think of her as a generous, fun, tart, wise, humorous, brilliant, with a strong sense of life and purpose. She was superbly comfortable and also a comforting person. I am so glad to have known her on all these levels.

--Lisa Null

02 Jun 15 - 09:43 PM (#3714114)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: GUEST,Gerry

I love this line from the NYT obit:

As a college student, Ms. Ritchie took a few voice lessons, her only formal instruction. Her father, hearing her sing the old songs with her newfound classical technique, inquired whether she was ill.

02 Jun 15 - 09:46 PM (#3714115)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Janie

Jean Ritchie moved with grace between worlds, and with a strong spirit. Aside from her music, she was humbly and mindfully aware that she was both ambassador and advocate to the rest of the USA, and even internationally, for our much maligned Appalachian region, so subjected to stereotypes and pity.

This old hillbilly gonna miss you, Jean. is essentially a voice crying in the wilderness at present. Please donate.

02 Jun 15 - 09:48 PM (#3714116)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: GUEST,bbc

Alice, thank you so much for bringing Jean to us; what a gift to us all!



02 Jun 15 - 10:18 PM (#3714124)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: ChanteyLass

Many years ago (20? 25?) Aubrey Atwater and Elwood Donnelly put together a small folk festival in Rhode Island featuring singers of songs and tellers of stories from the Appalachian region. That was my only chance to be at one of Jean's performances and to speak briefly to her and George. I was glad that I was available that weekend.

My sympathy to Jean's family, friends, and fans.

02 Jun 15 - 10:43 PM (#3714125)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Bill D

If you go to, you can hear and/or see some archives of Jean's appearances. Just enter 'Jean' in the search box.

02 Jun 15 - 10:58 PM (#3714126)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: LadyJean

The now defunct, alas, Smokey City Folk Festival had a day of workshops that were more like private concerts. Jean Ritchie was a guest one year. That was one of the loveliest hours I have ever spent. She ended with a hymn her mother had sung. "Brighter than all of the suns of the morning" and she was.

02 Jun 15 - 11:17 PM (#3714129)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Dave Swan

Jean and I corresponded on a few occasions and she was as sweet and generous as could be.

Back in the days of Mudcat auctions I placed the winning bid for a corn husk doll from her collection. I'm pretty sure the doll sings Jean's songs when I'm not here.

03 Jun 15 - 05:04 AM (#3714155)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: vectis

I am sorry to hear this news. I am sure it was a book she wrote/co-wrote that I used to learn how to play dulcimer way way back in the day.

03 Jun 15 - 10:07 AM (#3714219)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Peter T.

Among the many reasons I have to thank Mudcat, getting to know Jean in the digital flesh is pretty near the top. The epitome of the dignity of folk music and its heritage.

A side note on her influence -- I was talking to a friend last week about Joni Mitchell's album "Blue" and she said that the electric guitar sounded so weird, she wondered how Joni had done it. I got to tell her all about dulcimers and Jean Ritchie and Joellen Lapidus, etc.


Peter T.

03 Jun 15 - 10:26 AM (#3714222)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Mrrzy

A sad loss. My condolences to the family. She was a strong presence in the records my parents had when I was a small child in deepest darkest Africa just after decolonization, and as such, has always been a comfort to me.

03 Jun 15 - 02:02 PM (#3714270)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Ernest

RIP and Condolences to her family.

03 Jun 15 - 06:26 PM (#3714324)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Rex

I am sorry to learn that Jean is departed from us but what a gift and legacy she left behind in her music. And how great it was that she would come here and be a fellow 'Catter among us. Then there was the wonderful story of her family, The Singing Family of the Cumberlands. I once asked her to sign one of her earlier albums. She took it and asked, "Is that mine?", she didn't recognize it at first. The point is that she has recorded so much of her life's work that even she could not account for it all. That is a significant legacy. In Janie's post above she said, "Jean Ritchie moved with grace between worlds." How true, grace would be well defined by Jean.


03 Jun 15 - 06:44 PM (#3714326)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: GUEST,Anne Neilson

I was always well aware from US-based friends of Jean Ritchie and her significance -- repertoire and performance.

But it wasn't until I read 'Singing Family of the Cumberlands' that I had any real sense of her self: the truth and the joy and the hardship of her upbringing -- and the grace of her person.

I never met her, but feel privileged to have read her memoir.

Many thanks, Jean!

04 Jun 15 - 11:36 AM (#3714437)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: EBarnacle

The first time I knowingly met Jean was at a Long Island Traditional Music Association concert [not hers]. We chatted for a while and she offered to swap a copy of Singing Family of the Cumberlands for a copy of my book, Songs of South Street--Street of Ships. I treasure her gift and the correspondence we shared over the years on Mudcat.

04 Jun 15 - 02:37 PM (#3714469)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Amos

During the hectic months when I was promoting for songs to be included in the Mudcat CDs, I of course solicited Jean's permission to include some of her songs. Her charm and character radiated in her response--she would only allow one of hers, because there were so many others, especially rising young singers, who needed to be included, but she would only agree if I also included something from Sandy Paton, Art Thieme, and Margaret MacArthur. In that single decision she greatly improved the final result of the Mudcat CD collection., and I learned wonderful new songs from all three. Jean's "Deep Shady Grove" was the song she chose to include, a classic of her pure Kentucky voice.

04 Jun 15 - 03:32 PM (#3714478)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: GUEST,addison

The Guardian in the UK published an obituary of Jean Ritchie in the paper on Thursday.... also online ... here's the link ...

Jean Ritchie in The Guardian

04 Jun 15 - 05:53 PM (#3714504)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Mark Clark

Sometimes I almost (almost) wish Mudcat had a "like" button so I could express my appreciation for each comment and remembrance above. Jean saved, passed on, inspired, and created so much great music it's impossible to reckon her value in human terms. Though she no longer lived in the place of her birth, she always seemed like some benevolent angel of the mountains. The world needed her… and still does.

      - Mark

04 Jun 15 - 08:53 PM (#3714534)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: McGrath of Harlow

Anytime you felt fed up with some bit of mess on the Mudcat, you could always remind yourself kytrad was part of this community, and that's a proof it's worth holding on to.

And the same goes for the country that was graced by having her.y

05 Jun 15 - 10:04 AM (#3714615)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Hollowfox

I only met Jean a few times, always at a festival, but she is responsible for two of the proudest moments in my life. There is no reason she or her family should remember them, but they just explain her as nothing else can for me. I hired her for the first festival I ever booked, at the university in Geneseo, New York. She came up with husband and sons, and we had a wonderful time. We also had a blizzard (not so much cold as lots of snow). This being the first festival I'd run, I treated it like the parties I'd grown up with, including instructing Jean et al to call me when they got home, so I'd know they got home safely, which they did. Fast forward about a dozen years to another midwinter college festival (now in Ohio), where I was working in performer checkin. Again there was an almighty snowstorm, and Jean got picked up at the airport. Apparently the pickup and transport did not go as smoothly as it might, as the look on her face spoke of an already long day. Then she saw me, her face lit up, and she only said "Geneseo!" She knew she was in good hands.
Nobody else probably remembers the other one either, but at Fox Hollow festival, she took time to introduce Robin (of Robin and Linda) Williams and me, because she thought we'd enjoy meeting. She smiled to find we already knew each other. The fact that she cared enough to take the trouble to introduce two folks she thought should know each other speaks volumes.
Love, prayers, and good thoughts to the Pickows. Now she can walk in that garden in the cool of the day.

05 Jun 15 - 10:59 AM (#3714629)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Dan Schatz

I got to know Jean after seeing a Mudcat post about a picnic she was hosting, and that has led to some truly amazing experiences of her warmth, music and generosity. I wrote about that picnic and the Dear Jean CD in this Huffington Post piece. There's a few pictures, too, including photos from the last two songs she ever performed, at the concert we did in Kentucky last year. What a privilege to have played a small role in someone's life who made such a large difference in mine.


05 Jun 15 - 03:53 PM (#3714679)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: voyager

Back in 2002, I won the Mudcat Auction of the 1962 Newport Folk Festival program edited by Jean Ritchie. She sent along a hand
written note as well. This is a treasured book in my home.

Newport Folk Festival Program (and kytrad note) - 1962


06 Jun 15 - 08:24 AM (#3714789)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Andrez

My friend Maireid Sullivan told me about Jeans passing and I then sent her the link to this thread. In turn Mairead then sent me a link to an interview she did with Jean Ritchie in 1999 and posted on her website. I'm posting the link to this thread to share a little more of what made Jean such a special person and such a loss to our world of folk music.

Enjoy reading one and all:



09 Jun 15 - 08:00 PM (#3715650)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Desert Dancer

Here's the text, but visit the page for a slideshow and audio.

~ Becky in Long Beach

Smithsonian Folkways Remembers Jean Ritchie (1922–2015)

Smithsonian Folkways is saddened to learn of the passing of Jean Ritchie. An inimitable force in traditional music, Ritchie was a songwriter, ballad singer, musician, and folklorist, and is credited with resurrecting the Appalachian dulcimer.

Born in 1922 in Viper, Kentucky, Jean's love of music started early. She was the youngest of fourteen in a family of musicians and learned tunes from church and family get-togethers. From her father and uncle, she learned to play the Appalachian lap dulcimer. Much of her repertoire of Child ballads and hymns came from these early influences, and it also included her own compositions relating the struggles and joys of living in her native mountains.

After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Kentucky with a degree in social work, she moved to New York City to work at the Henry Street Settlement, where she began to sing for children. There she met Alan Lomax, recorded for the Library of Congress, and began performing with legendary folk musicians such as Lead Belly, Woody Guthrie, and Pete Seeger. Throughout her life, she continued to perform and carry on the folksong tradition.

Ritchie recorded over thirty albums in her lifetime. She appears on fifteen Smithsonian Folkways albums, including the seminal two-volume British Traditional Ballads in the Southern Mountains (1960), the live record Jean Ritchie and Doc Watson at Folk City (1963/1990), and the influential The Appalachian Dulcimer: An Instructional Album (1964). She also released two albums of recordings she made during a Fulbright scholarship trip to the British Isles, As I Roved Out (Field Trip—Ireland) (1960), and Field Trip—England (1959). In 1955, she published her memoir and songbook, Singing Family of the Cumberlands, illustrated by Maurice Sendak. It was the second of her four books.

Ritchie received numerous esteemed awards and recognitions during her career and performed at countless folk festivals and on radio programs across the globe. She appeared at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival (formerly the Festival of American Folklife) four times, in 1968, 1972, 1973, and 2003. Along with her 1952 Fulbright scholarship, she also received the Folk Alliance Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998 and the National Endowment for the Arts' Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Fellowship in 2002.

Beyond all of her achievements, her humble spirit and intimate connection to folksong inspired countless musicians, including Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, and Joan Baez, among others. She was the subject of a tribute album, Dear Jean (Compass 2014), which features tracks by such renowned musicians as Pete and Peggy Seeger, Janis Ian, and Archie Fisher.

Jean Ritchie died in Berea, Kentucky, on June 1, 2015, surrounded by members of her family who sang at her bedside in the last hours. She was preceded by her husband, George Pickow (1922–2010), and is survived by her two sons, Peter and Jon Pickow, and brother, Balis Wilmer Ritchie.

On Ritchie's passing, Smithsonian Folkways director Dan Sheehy commented, "Jean Ritchie was a role model for countless American musicians, bringing rural traditions such as those she grew up with in Viper, Kentucky to urban venues in New York City and beyond. She did it all—performed, wrote songs and books, and shared her knowledge with an unending stream of adoring students. We at Smithsonian Folkways will miss her dearly and will do all we can to perpetuate her legacy."


Carter-Schwendler, Karen L. "Mountain Born: The Jean Ritchie Story." Kentucky Educational Television. Web.

Fox, Margalit. "Jean Ritchie, Who Revived Appalachian Folk Songs, Dies at 92." New York Times, June 2, 2015.

Goldstein, Kenneth, Stephanie Smith, and Jean Ritchie. Jean Ritchie: Ballads from Her Appalachian Tradition. Liner Notes. Folkways Records, 1961 and 2003.

Litzinger, Sam, Jeff Place, and Stephanie Smith. Sound Session Radio – Jean Ritchie. Web.

12 Jun 15 - 01:05 PM (#3716225)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Desert Dancer

Beautiful pictures from the collection of the American Folklife Center, and remembrances, here: Jean Ritchie, 1922-2015. Because there are so many pictures, as well as a few sound links, I'm not copying the text here, but highly recommend viewing the page.

Stephen Winick says, "The whole AFC staff was saddened by the death of Jean Ritchie earlier this month. We paid tribute to her immediately in a Facebook post, which you can see here, and the Chairman of our Board of Trustees, C. Kurt Dewhurst, made a moving statement about Jean at the Board's June meeting. However, I felt a fuller and more public statement about Jean was still appropriate. In addition, because Ritchie's husband was the outstandingly talented photographer George Pickow, we have many beautiful pictures of Jean to share. For this appreciation of Jean and George, I drew heavily on an article written by our retired archive head, Michael Taft, for Folklife Center News. Enough material is new in this article, and enough of that older article was contributed by me as editor, that this piece should be considered co-authored by Stephen Winick and Michael Taft. "

~ Becky in Long Beach

12 Jun 15 - 01:14 PM (#3716228)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: GUEST,Robert--Coos Bay

I met Jean and her family in the 70's in Portland. They encouraged my then fledgling dulcimer playing, signed an album (Precious Memories) and gave me both their New York and Kentucky addresses AND phone numbers. A few years passed, and I wrote to her. She immediately wrote back, enthusiastically, as ever. We talked on the phone on several occasions, and she continued to answer every letter and music request with handwritten notes and cards. She always remembered me by name when I would see her in person. Amazing. In 2007 when I was convalescing at friends' at the beach, Jean sent me the most beautiful handwritten card and letter I had ever received in my life. For forty years the Ritchie/Pickow family has been on my top-shelf list of personal friendships. I am so proud to know, and be known by, this artist and her family. She was absolutely inspiring in every way. Has anyone contacted RollingStone Magazine? She deserves a write-up there, in my opinion. Love to all my folk music comrades. r

17 Jun 15 - 03:10 AM (#3717081)
Subject: Obit: Jean Ritchie
From: MGM·Lion

An obituary of our beloved Kytrad in The Times this morning. Died 1 June.

Adieu to one the most exquisite voices in the world.


17 Jun 15 - 10:28 AM (#3717120)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)
From: Roger the Skiffler

I missed this as I was incommunicado (Komunikardo, a little island in Greece). I only knew her through this forum, she was clearly much loved and admired and will be missed by the world folk community, not just in the US.


01 Jul 15 - 09:14 PM (#3720408)
Subject: RE: Obit: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015)

Jean Ritchie commemorative postage stamp:

Should there be a separate thread for this suggestion?

I've sent a letter to the U.S. Postal Service requesting that they consider issuing a commemorative stamp for Jean Ritchie. Here is the link to the site for submission information:

I expect that the more suggestions they receive, the better the chance for a stamp to be approved. Here is the text of the letter:

Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee
475 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Room 3300
Washington, DC 20260-3501

28 June 2015

Subject: Jean Ritchie (1922-2015) - American folk singer, songwriter, folklore collector and researcher, recording artist, and Appalachian dulcimer performer and teacher.

Dear Sir or Madam,

I hope you have already received many requests that Jean Ritchie, who died earlier this month, be commemorated with a U.S. postage stamp. It is important that her enormous contribution to American culture be remembered. I believe she amply fulfills all the requirements listed in the stamp subject selection criteria.

Here are links to a few of the relevant websites relating to her career:

New York Times obituary:

Washington Post obituary:

Library of Congress tribute:

Wikipedia article:

Here is a link to a portrait of Jean Ritchie taken by her late husband, photographer George Pickow, which might be considered for a possible postage stamp design:

Her surviving family members can probably be contacted through an institution she had a long association with: Berea College, 101 Chestnut St., Berea, KY 40403.