Jean Ritchie was born in Viper, kentucky in 1922. She was raised in a family that considered music to be very important. She attended college at Cumberland Junior College, she then went on to attend the University of Kentucky, where she graduated with a bachelors in social work.
She moved to New York and was married to photographer George Pickow. Ritchie was a dulcimer player, she is considered to be the one to launch the "dulcimer revival." She has influenced both country and folk singers alike. Her first solo recording was in 1952, and she received the Fulbright Award that same year, which allowed her to study folk music in the British Isles.
In 2008 she was inducted into the Long island Music Hall of Fame. She helped to popularize traditional Appalachian music, and she was known as the "Mother of Folk."
Ritchie, Jean, "Childhood Songs" (1991). Music of Appalachia Collection. 19.