This is a place where I'll be sharing music, thoughts, musings, and information about the American Folk musician Jean Ritchie.
I'll be creating new renditions and recordings of her songs, some that will include special guest musicians.
UPDATED APRIL 10, 2022
I began singing Jean Ritchie's songs when I was a teenager.
She was then, and still is, a primary inspiration for my love of American Folk Music. Through her original songs, her modifications of traditional songs, her instrumental playing, and her collaborations with other musicians, she's represented the spirit of American folk music with both authenticity and innovation.
In a life that spanned 1922-2015, Jean bridged the world of families who sang on their porches in mountain hollers, to those who took that music to the rest of the world. During her lifetime, she became a well respected performer, songwriter, and folklorist. She was a Fulbright Scholar, a co-director of the very first Newport Folk Festival in 1959, and was instrumental in introducing the Appalachian Mountain Dulcimer to a wide listenership. Without losing her sense of small town, down home, and family-centered living, she was one of the few artists lauded by both the popular music world (Rolling Stone Magazine's 1977 Critic's Choice Award) and the traditional folk music world (Folk Alliance International's 1998 Lifetime Achievement Award).
Some people ask why I've decided to dedicate so much time to Jean's music. Well, there are many reasons for this and I'll try to explain some of them, while some reasons will become apparent if you follow this project through the new recordings and other related material that will be shared here.
Jean Ritchie was an important musician in the "folk revival" of the 1960-70s era, her contribution was as important as some of her more established (more famous) peers. Her work as a folklorist in collecting music was balanced well with her understanding and acceptance that folk music was a living and breathing form of music, that each artist and generation of people will leave their mark through varied renditions, new versions, and inventive arrangements. The well-crafted lyrics and melodies of her original songs carry cadence styles like that of traditional folk music. Within her collection of traditional music, it can be difficult to discern the difference between the older lyrics and some of her lyric modifications. Jean composed songs with an eclectic flare, including love songs, children's songs, spirituals, songs about miners, songs touching on environmental issues, with many about the mountains where she was raised and her family's influence.
SONGS I'M IN THE PROCESS OF RECORDING
1. Come Fare Away
2. The Flowers of Joy
3. Black Waters
These songs I'm recording with collaborators at The Cabin studios near Leesburg, VA. Bassist John Bryant is in this photo at the studio, playing a bass track on Wintergrace.
This page will be regularly updated and expanded, so please return here now and then for new postings and uploaded music. I'll be recording a series of her songs and will share them here.
A natural course of creating new renditions of her music will lead to single song releases, and publishing them in sources such as CDs and/or vinyl LPs.
Fundraising for this project will be ongoing.
To support The Jean Ritchie Experience, my recordings of her songs, please see my Patreon page, or consider a direct donation.
You can contact me through...info at kate macleod dot com.