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Welcome to...

UPDATED Feb 10, 2023

Kate MacLeod is sponsored by                                                    capos

The-Jean-Ritchie-Experience-4-4-2022 copy 6.png

This year, Jean Ritchie would have been 100 years old.

Join me here for a journey through her music.

This is a place where I'll be sharing music, thoughts, musings, and information about the American Folk musician Jean Ritchie.  

I'll be producing new renditions of her songs, collaborating with special guest musicians on each recorded piece. You will eventually find interviews by those who knew her, posted here. There are four songs scheduled for release

at this time. After which, there will be more! 

I am one of many musicians who have recorded her songs. Search out others, including a recording released soon after her passing titled Dear Jean: Artists Celebrate Jean Ritchie 


Americana UK says...

"The Jean Richie Experience is an exciting, worthwhile project, shining a light on the talents of both Jean Ritchie and Kate MacLeod herself."


The Utah Division of Arts and Museums has awarded a grant in support of this project, for promoting the first four single song releases. 

For those new to her music, or even those who know of her, this DOCUMENTARY is a wonderful introduction to her life and musical experience. And, of course, her WIKIPEDIA page is worth exploring. 

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). 

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. 

    Some people ask why I dedicate so much time to Jean's music. Well, I've always been fascinated by her and the music she creates, and I think there's more to her music than we hear upon first listenings.

I recorded her song None But One on two different recordings, and corresponded with Jean through handwritten notes for those releases. She sent me a signed copy of the lyrics and notation sheet for the song, which I treasure. My own experiences as a woman working in the music business, rooted in the

Folk genre, who has also raised children, have fostered in me relatable awareness of her.

My experience in other genres of music, such as Classical, and my professional work as a producer,

give me comfortability in rendering her songs in ways that depart from her own recordings, in hopes

to expand appreciation and curiosity about her repertoire. I also want to know more about Jean,

and so others will be able to learn about her, along with me, through my research, posts, website updates, and new releases of her work. Additional reasons for my attention to this

will become apparent if you follow this project over time.  

         I've titled this The Jean Ritchie Experience, because it best describes the project as a discovery of, study of, and experimentation with her music. The title plays off of the famed Jimi Hendrix Experience, and the recording, Are You Experienced.  That recording personified Jimi Hendrix as an important and artistically mystical musician.  In a playful way, the title brings a sense of humor to this project of

Jean’s music, while at the same time supports my perception that her musicianship and

composing is every bit as interesting as Jimi Hendrix’.  


1. Wintergrace - release date Dec 30, 2022

2. Black Waters - release date Feb 10, 2023

3. Come Fare Away - release date April 14, 2023

4. The Flowers of Joy - release date May 19, 2023

These songs I'm recording with collaborators, and sound engineer Dustin DeLage, at The Cabin studios

near Leesburg, VA. Bassist John Bryant is in this photo

at the studio, playing a bass track on Wintergrace. 

More songs will be produced as time goes on,

culminating in a full-length published recording project. 


Some musicians involved...John Bryant on acoustic bass, Paul Hammerton on vocals, and Meya Collings who sings and arranges vocal harmonies. 


This page will be regularly updated and expanded, so please return here now and then for new postings and uploaded music. A natural course of creating new renditions of her music

will lead to numerous single song releases, and eventually publishing

them in sources such as CDs and/or vinyl LPs.  

Fundraising for this project will be ongoing.

To support The Jean Ritchie Experience, please join in at my Patreon page,

or consider a direct donation. 

You can contact me at kate macleod dot com. 

The Songs


Wintergrace is a song that expresses the experience of deep winter, its gifts of introspection, reflection, and the opportunity for a slower pace of life that the cold days and long nights of winter offer. The lyrics and melody are infused with the sounds of earlier music she was brought up with, and could easily pass as a traditional song. As in some of her other compositions, this song's religious undercurrents are subtly universal and bridge spiritual experience with the natural world in a manner reminiscent of ancient cultures. 
I sing and play this arrangement of Wintergrace with my old J-45 acoustic guitar and a mountain dulcimer, with guest musicians (from West Virginia) John Bryant on acoustic bass, and Morgan Morrison on harmony vocals.

Produced by Kate MacLeod. Recorded and mixed by Dustin DeLage at Cabin Studios, Leesburg, VA

Kate MacLeod - vocals, acoustic guitar, dulcimer

John Bryant - acoustic bass

Morgan Morrison - vocal harmony
Mastered by David Glasser, Airshow Mastering, Boulder, CO
Photography for cover art - Jeanette Bonnell. Cover art design - Kate MacLeod
Song - Copyright Jean Ritchie, Geordie Music Publishing

Sound recording - Copyright 2022, Kate MacLeod, Courier Music, ASCAP
Recording and promotion expenses have been funded by patrons through,

and a grant award from the Utah Division of Arts and Museums.


This is the time we love so well
The time of all the year
When winter calls with chilling breath
For fireside and good cheer
The time for man and beast to stand
To feel the seasons turn
To watch the stars with secret signs
And God’s true lessons learn

For the time when the corn is all into the barn
The old cow’s breath a frosty white
And the morn along the fallow field
Doth silver shine

And when cold morning’s radiant star
Falls over hill and plain
We know anew that little babe
Is born to us again
For man and beast and bird and tree
Each one in its own place

We bow our hearts and thank our God
For winter’s rest and grace

BLACK WATERS - Release Date Feb 10, 2023

This is the 2nd release for The Jean Ritchie Experience. Black Waters is very important in her collection of original songs. First released in 1971, it's an excellent example of a folk song, story song, and an environmental activist song. Jean spoke in interviews and documentaries about her reluctance, when young, to be known as an activist, primarily because of her cultural background in which it might have been frowned upon by some in her family and regional culture. But like so many of her songs, it's clearly a statement, practically unbridled. The song’s lyrics are from the standpoint of someone who's seen the destruction of their land. It also has the extra edge of stating how people can be misled or taken advantage of by a large company. The song doesn't state that she didn't support mining in general, but is a statement that the use of “strip mining” is destructive and polluting.  My favorite lines in the song are, "If I had 10 million or somewhere thereabouts, I’d buy Perry County and I’d run ‘em all out." I'm joined on this track by John Bryant on bass, and Paul Hammerton whose voice sounds as though he's a miner from right out of the coal mines. Paul and I share some lyric lines to create a conversation within the song. I've attempted to sing this with a plaintiveness that the story evokes, as if singing from the bottom of a holler, out to the world. Each one of the lyric lines is a truth in itself, written with simplicity and clarity in much the same way John Steinbeck or Woody Guthrie would have written.


Copyright Jean Ritchie, Geordie Music, 1971

Kate MacLeod - vocals, fiddle, harmonica Fiddle - made by Darol Anger

Paul Hammerton - vocals

John Bryant - acoustic bass

Engineered and Mixed by Dustin DeLage, Cabin Studios, Leesburg, VA

Mastered by David Glasser, Airshow Mastering, Boulder, CO

LYRICS - as sung on my recording

I come from the mountains, Kentucky's my home
Where the wild deer and black bear so lately did roam
By cool rushing waterfalls the wildflowers dream
And through every green valley, there runs a clear stream
Now there''re scenes of destruction on every hand
And there’s only black waters run down through my land
Sad scenes of destruction on every hand
Black waters, black waters, run down through the land

Oh the quail, she's a pretty bird, she sings a sweet tongue
In the roots of tall
timbers she nests with her young
But the hillside explodes with the dynamite's roar
And the voices of the small birds will sound there no more
And the hillsides come a-sliding so awful and grand
And the flooding black waters rise over my land
Sad scenes of destruction on every hand
Black waters, black waters, run down through the land

In the rising of springtime we planted our corn
In the ending of the springtime we buried a son
Then a nice man come around saying everything's fine
My employer just requires a way to his mine
Then they threw down my mountain and they covered my corn
And the grave on the hillside's a mile deeper down
And the man stands and talks with his hat in his hand
As the poisonous water spreads over my land
Sad scenes of destruction on every hand
Black waters, black waters, run down through the land

Well I ain't got no money, and not much of a home
I own my own land, but my land's not my own
But, if I had ten million, somewhere thereabouts
I would buy Perry county and I’d run 'em all out
Set down on the bank with my bait in my can
And just watch the clear waters run down through my land

Oh, wouldn't that be just like the old promised land?
Black waters, black waters no more in my land
Sad scenes of destruction on every hand
Black waters, black waters run down through the land

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