Now entering the seventh decade of an extraordinary and influential career, Jean Ritchie is one of the most enduring figures in American folk music. Elektra’s second LP release and, significantly, the label’s first folk LP, Jean Ritchie Singing The Traditional Songs Of Her Kentucky Mountain Family laid down an impressive marker for the embryo label. It was also Ritchie's first album.
Jean was born in 1922 in Viper, Kentucky, the youngest of 14 children. The family’s Anglo-Scots-Irish heritage was rich in songs sung by generations tucked away in the Appalachians. Singing in the purest of tones and strumming on her dulcimer, Ritchie’s ingenuous songwriting preserved an ancient tradition.
After graduating college, she arrived in New York in 1948 where she was a sensation. Nobody had heard such authentic performances except on field recordings. She recorded a second LP for Elektra in 1954, Kentucky Mountain Songs. All her Elektra material is now gathered onto the Rhino Handmade collection Mountain Hearth & Home.
Jean Ritchie has always maintained her Appalachian authenticity and for Jac Holzman, it was a remarkable opportunity to capture such a seminal artist as his first folk artist.