Born and raised in Viper, KY in the heart of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, Jean Ritchie brought a treasure trove of songs and folklore into mainstream America and around the world. She is credited with almost singlehandedly reviving interest in the mountain dulcimer and with helping it to gain prominence as more than a regional folk instrument.
She is the author of ten books, including the American classic "Singing Family of the Cumberlands" and the prize winning "Celebration of Life." Jean has recorded more than 30 albums for different labels, including her own Greenhays label, founded by her and her husband, photographer George Pickow. Aside from the hundreds of traditional songs she has collected, she is also a prolific songwriter whose original songs have been recorded by numerous major artists.
Jean's many honors and awards include the University of Kentucky Founders Day Award and a place in their Hall of Distinguished Alumni, the Phi Beta Kappa Certificate of Honor, a 1993 Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from the University 0f Kentucky, a 1991 Honorary Doctor of Arts from Berea College and she was the recipient of the 1984 Miner Award from the Kentucky Arts Council as Outstanding Kentucky Artist of the Year.