this further from the NEA website (& a lovely photo!)
2002 National Heritage Fellowships
JEAN RITCHIE Appalachian musician/songwriter, Port Washington, NY & Viper, KY
Jean Ritchie, the recipient of the Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Fellowship, is a significant musician and songwriter, as well as a cultural activist and chronicler of her home region. She was born into a singing family in Viper, Kentucky, in the Cumberland Mountains of the eastern part of the state. The youngest of 14 children, she studied at Viper High School and Cumberland College, before going on to the University of Kentucky where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in social work. Her first job was with the Henry Street Settlement on New York's Lower East Side, where she taught Kentucky songs, ballads, and singing games to children. During this time, Alan Lomax encountered her, recorded her songs and lap dulcimer playing for the Library of Congress, and arranged her first formal concert at Columbia University. By 1952, she was traveling on a Fulbright Fellowship to trace and document the roots of her heritage in the British Isles. In 1955, her first book, Singing Family of the Cumberlands, was hailed as an American classic. Her many recordings and appearances at major folk festivals, including the early Newport Folk Festivals, cultivated a revival of interest in Appalachian music and culture. She also became known as an insightful songwriter, penning such classics as Blue Diamond Mines, Black Waters, and The L & N Don't Stop Here Anymore, about life in eastern Kentucky coal country. By sharing her music as well as her commitment and strong ties to her Appalachian home with audiences around the nation and around the world, Jean Ritchie has come to define and embody the dual concepts of ambassador and steward of tradition.