Jean Ritchie, 1922-2015
June 2, 2015 12:34 PM   Subscribe

Jean Ritchie, largely responsible for the revival/survival of traditional ballads and mountain dulcimer as living folk arts in the United States, tradition-bearer of Appalachian culture, national treasure, has passed away at the age of 92.

(Jean Ritchie previously.)
posted by hades (32 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's always sorry to hear such but in this case I must admit I was surprised.
posted by y2karl at 12:38 PM on June 2, 2015


There's some great archival material of her at Berea College, part of the Digital Library of Appalachia (which appears to be down right now, but is a tremendous resource for folk musicians interested in that region).
posted by hades at 12:47 PM on June 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


i think three things about Richie:
a) Folk music is political music, but when Richie sung about WV, it had a mark of regional vrsmillitude that complicated the narratives of authencity of the Lomax or the political subtexts of the broadside crowd. b) Her kindness to Paul Clayton, who I think is one of the more interesting, and under written about figures in the 60s folk revivals. c) How well she played that dulicmer, plus her voice.
posted by PinkMoose at 12:54 PM on June 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


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posted by jason_steakums at 12:56 PM on June 2, 2015


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posted by LobsterMitten at 1:04 PM on June 2, 2015


The two-CD set Dear Jean was released last year, in part tribute and in part fundraiser for her continued care (her health was in decline).

So much I could say but too much self-interest; instead I'll just leave this here. They were many things, not the least of which they were gracious.
posted by datawrangler at 1:05 PM on June 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


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posted by cookie-k at 1:11 PM on June 2, 2015


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posted by suelac at 1:27 PM on June 2, 2015


You know the dulcimer isn't a real instrument, yes? I mean, bards speak of it, and it has passed down in legend from English and Irish song to American folk tale, but it is an instrument that no human could wield, for they, and their listeners, would die from the beauty of it. When they speak of Jean Ritchie, and her music, they are telling legends, because if such a person had ever existed, none of us could have heard her music without our hearts stopping and our streets flooding with tears of joy and sadness.

She is a legend, and legends don't die. They will speak of her forever in the hills, playing the best music ever made on the best instrument, and that must be a myth, mustn't it?
posted by maxsparber at 1:37 PM on June 2, 2015 [8 favorites]


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posted by scruss at 1:39 PM on June 2, 2015


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posted by jim in austin at 1:42 PM on June 2, 2015


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posted by teponaztli at 1:45 PM on June 2, 2015


From Wikipedia, regarding a photograph taken the day she met her husband: "The result — Ms. Ritchie perched on the hood of a truck, holding a rather large lobster — was published in a trucking-industry magazine."

This is a photograph I'd like to see.
posted by dirtdirt at 1:53 PM on June 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


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posted by Lynsey at 2:05 PM on June 2, 2015



posted by Smart Dalek at 2:05 PM on June 2, 2015


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posted by Cash4Lead at 2:21 PM on June 2, 2015


A few weeks ago I went to an afternoon musical performance at my mother's church. Ran into Al Smith who told me a few Jean Ritchie stories. Remarkable Appalachian hero.
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posted by CincyBlues at 2:24 PM on June 2, 2015


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posted by triage_lazarus at 2:40 PM on June 2, 2015


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posted by talking leaf at 2:43 PM on June 2, 2015


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posted by allthinky at 5:34 PM on June 2, 2015


Fun internet fact of the day. Using the search tool on the Amazon web site you can find 28 results for Jean Ritchie in

Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia by Fiona Ritchie and Doug Orr. As far as I know Fiona is no relation.

I was looking to see if this CD was still in print but at least for now it is not. You can buy it on mp3 though.
posted by bukvich at 5:51 PM on June 2, 2015


Sample What Will I do with Baby-O.
posted by bukvich at 5:54 PM on June 2, 2015


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posted by blob at 6:40 PM on June 2, 2015


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posted by contrarian at 7:24 PM on June 2, 2015


> You know the dulcimer isn't a real instrument, yes?
> posted by maxsparber at 4:37 PM on June 2

maxsparber, you will never know how close to serious injury you just came, at the hands of my axe.

I saw Miss Jean perform at least once (probably more than that) up at Berea College as a child (I want to say she also came down to the community school a few times, but I may be misremembering). My uncle makes dulcimers, as do other people who've lived in town, but the first time I ever saw one played was when Miss Jean played it.

I remember her as kind, gently-mannered, and well-spoken. I really never understood her position in American music until after I graduated college, I suppose. She was just Miss Jean with the dulcimer to us kids.

Godspeed, Miss Jean.


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posted by magstheaxe at 8:21 PM on June 2, 2015


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posted by key_of_z at 8:21 PM on June 2, 2015


Jean Ritchie has done her part superbly. Now it's up to us.
posted by key_of_z at 8:23 PM on June 2, 2015


Beats has a bunch of stuff by her.
posted by persona au gratin at 2:30 AM on June 3, 2015


Very sad news. My favorite Jean Ritchie story is that so many fans asked her which of her albums had "the most dulcimer" that she recorded an album with dulcimer all the way through and called it The Most Dulcimer.
posted by No-sword at 3:07 AM on June 3, 2015


I mostly know Jean Ritchie's solo work, but her collaboration with Doc Watson ("Jean Ritchie and Doc Watson Live at Folk City" from 1963, available on CD, probably vinyl, iTunes, etc.) is just amazing--both of them in their relatively early careers but at their peak of voice and instrument, having a lot of fun with great music.
posted by Creosote at 7:56 AM on June 3, 2015


maxsparber, you will never know how close to serious injury you just came, at the hands of my axe.

Well-earned!

If it wasn't clear, I love the dulcimer.
posted by maxsparber at 8:11 AM on June 3, 2015


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posted by white_devil at 10:54 AM on June 3, 2015


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