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Jean Ritchie “The Mother of Folk”

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Jean Ritchie “The Mother of Folk”

“I believe that old songs have things to say to the modern generation”

                                                                                                     -Jean Ritchie

Jean Ritchie (1922-2015) was an acclaimed folksinger from Kentucky. After marrying photographer George Pickow in 1950, they moved to Port Washington, New York where they lived with their two sons Jon and Peter. A musician, author, teacher, composer, actress and singer Ritchie performed at world renowned venues such as Carnegie Hall in New York and the Royal Albert Hall in London. She has performed alongside some of the best-known names in folk music, including Pete Seeger and Doc Watson.

Ritchie brought traditional songs from her native Appalachia to a wide audience-singing of faith and unfaithfulness, revenge, love requited and love lost-and in the process helped ignite the folk song revival of the mid-20th century.

She was frequently accompanied by her fretted dulcimer which she had learned to play as a girl. As a result Ritchie has been credited with almost single-handedly reviving interest in the instrument. Ritchie’s original dulcimer is on display at the Port Washington Public Library’s Reading Room.