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Jean Ritchie


Jean Ritchie was the youngest of 14 siblings from one of the great ballad-singing families of Kentucky. Singing was constant from chores to playtime.

After getting a degree in social work from the University of Kentucky, she moved to New York City, where her singing and dulcimer caught the ears of Mitch Miller and folk legend Alan Lomax. Her first solo album, Jean Ritchie Singing the Traditional Songs of Her Kentucky Mountain Family, was released in 1952. Her many albums included children's material as well as performances with Pete Seeger and Doc Watson.

In 1952, she earned a Fulbright scholarship and went to England to research her family's music. Her other honors include being an original performer at the Newport Folk Festival; playing celebrated stages, including Carnegie Hall and Royal Albert Hall; and receiving a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2002.

Busgal was exposed to Ritchie's music in 2008, from Kathy Mattea's album Coal, and added her to her deadpool list a couple of years later, after Ritchie had a stroke. 


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