|The Music of the Southern Highlands: Jean Ritchie
||[Feb. 15th, 2008|11:43 am]
Jean Ritchie |
Sometimes called the "Mother of Folk," Jean Ritchie is a Kentucky folk singer known for her pure, lyrical voice, her skill with the Appalachian ('mountain' or 'lap') dulcimer, and her vast repertoire of traditional ballads culled from the Southern Appalachian folk tradition. Most of her songs, like those represented here, originated in the balladic traditions of the British Isles, and as such, are often relics of the late medieval and early modern eras (the earliest variants of "False Sir John" seem to have appeared in England and Scandinavia as early as the 10th or 11th centuries).
These ballads are, by and large, songs concerned intimately with honor, kinship, death and violence. A student of modern music will be interested to find many of the characteristics of supposedly 'African' blues music (dialogue based lyrical structures, call and response, certain tonal and elaborative features, etc.). This is a Smithsonian Folkways recording made in 1961.
This music is near and dear to my heart, as I grew up with these songs as a part of my own family life. The variant of "The House Carpenter" included in this collection was one my mother sang when I was a child.
Jean Ritchie - Ballads From Her Appalachian Family Tradition