photo of Jean posted on fb by Aubrey Atwater (and shared by Nancy Barker)

Robin Thompson
02/16/11 11:31:53AM
Jean Ritchie: Icon, role model, mentor, friend...

On Sunday, Elwood and I "swung" by Long Island on the way home from a gig near Baltimore to visit Jean Ritchie and her son Jon Pickow. Jon took this photo which we will treasure. We strongly felt the absence of her husband George Pickow who passed away in December. What amazing and dear man he was and what a couple! Married for 6O years, they forged fascinating, and often collaborative careers. I still have yet to put into words the impact Jean has had on our lives ever since that fateful June in 1992 when I was hellbent on driving to Hindman, Kentucky from RI to meet her and attend Appalachian Family Folk Week at the Hindman Settlement School near Viper, KY where Jean was born and raised. Jean's indescribable ability to create a community of singing, to write powerful songs, to present an encyclopedic knowledge of traditional songs, to convey her deep link to the folk music past and the early mountain dulcimer are gifts I have received from her and her relatives that I am still trying to grasp. For anyone who plays the mountain dulcimer, reading "The Singing Family of the Cumberlands" is a must...after all Jean is the one primarily responsible for introducing the mountain dulcimer into the burgeoning Greenwich Village folk scene when she came to NYC in the
late 1940's. Great to see her yesterday and to be reminded of her powerful presence in our lives. We love you Jean!