Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Jean Ritchie, Appalachian folk singer, songwriter, author, and dulcimer player, passed away yesterday at the age of 92. Born and raised in the Cumberland Mountains, Ritchie was known as the “Mother of Folk”. She released several albums on Elektra records and performed at Carnegie Hall. Ritchie also worked to record and document American, British, and Irish ballads. A graduate of the University of Kentucky (1946, B.A. in social work), Ritchie was the first recipient of UK’s Founder’s Day Award, and in 2002, she was awarded a National Endowment For The Arts National Heritage Fellowship.
Above: President H. L. Donovan presents Jean Ritchie with the school’s first Founder’s Day Award, 1955
The University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center houses the typescript of Singing Family of the Cumberlands, Ritchie’s 1955 publication on her family’s history.