Jean Ritchie in Concert
Do not miss this opportunity! The Cornell Folk Song Club is honored to bring Jean Ritchie to Ithaca for a rare concert. Long acknowledged as the leading performer and champion of Appalachian music, Jean Ritchie is an original. Original because of her authenticity, having grown up in Viper, Hazard County, Kentucky, where she learned the traditions from family and friends. The youngest of 14 children, she breathed in the magic of 30-verse old ballads, working and playing to shape-note music, gospel, and play-party songs. Homemade music was the entertainment in the Cumberland hollows of the 1920s and 30s. And the free, powerful voice, alone or with sweet mountain dulcimer and guitar, was music enough.
But Jean Ritchie's originality took her in a different direction, to college and then social work in Manhattan, where, in 1947, she began performing at New York University. Soon, she was appearing regularly on Oscar Brand's show, along with Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, introducing spellbound audiences to her southern mountain heritage. From there, she moved to stages all over the world and in the 1960s, began composing new songs-some grounded in tradition, others avant-garde-as well as performing the old. Here, her gift was also profound. She has given us many beloved classics such as "The L&N Don't Stop Here Anymore," "Black Waters," and "Dear Companion," has collected over 300 songs from the Southern Appalachians and British Isles, has made more than 30 recordings, and has published 10 books, some preserving historic songs, others delightful memoirs of her Kentucky life.
Luckily for us, Jean Ritchie is not ready to retire but most of her 20-some concerts a year are in the southern Appalachians; she last performed in Ithaca 15 years ago. It is a real privilege to welcome her back.