"Jean Ritchie" (born 1922) is an American folk singer and Appalachian dulcimer player.
In the mid-thirties Alan Lomax recorded in Kentucky for the Library of Congress's Archive of Folk Song. Among the people he recorded was "The Singing Ritchies". Abigail and Balis Ritchie had 14 children and Jean was the last one, born on the 8th December 1922. 10 girls slept in one room of the farming family in the Cumberland Mountains. She quickly memorised songs and performed at local dances and the country fair in Hazard. In the late forties the family acquired a radio and discovered that what they were singing was Hillbilly music, a word they had never heard before. Jean attended Cumberland College in Williamsburg, Kentucky and later the University of Kentucky in Lexington. At college she joined the glee club and choir and learned to play piano. In 1946 she graduated with a BA in social work. During the war she taught in elementary school. In the summer of 1946 she moved to work in the Henry Street Settlement in New York. Here she met Oscar Brand, Leadbelly and Pete Seeger and started singing her family songs again. In 1948 she shared the stage with The Weavers, Woody Guthrie and Bett...