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Appalachian singer Jean Ritchie dies at 92

Tuesday, June 2, 2015 – Jean Richie, American folk and Appalachian singer, who brought the dulcimer to the forefront, died Monday at 92 in Berea, Ky.

Ritchie was considered a key player in folk music along with spearheading the revival of the dulcimer. She also brought Appalachian folk songs to the masses throughout her singing career.

Richie was born in Viper, Ky. on Dec. 8, 1911. Ritchie came from a musical family. As a youth, she memorized songs, performing at local dances and fairs.

After graduating college, she was a social worker in New York City, where she befriend musicologist Alan Lomax, who recorded her for the Library of Congress. She joined the folk scene, befriending Lead Belly and Pete Seeger. She signed with Elektra Records and released three albums between 1952 and 1962. Her recording career continued until 2002.

Ritchie often sang a capella, but eventually played mountain dulcimer. Ritchie and her family eventually manufactured dulcimers. She played venues including Carnegie Hall in New York and Royal Albert Hall in London and performed with Doc Watson and Seeger. She performed a number of times at the Newport Folk Festival, starting with the first one in 1959.

Richie also was a songwriter with "My Dear Companion" appearing on "Trio" by Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris.

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