Kentucky folksinger, dulcimer player Jean Ritchie dies at 92

BEREA, Ky. (AP) — Jean Ritchie, the Kentucky-born folksinger who brought the centuries-old ballads she grew up with to a wide audience from the 1950s onward, died Monday evening. She was 92. Ritchie died in her home in Berea, Kentucky, with family around her, her niece Judy Hudson said.

The tall, red-haired Ritchie, who grew up in Kentucky’s Cumberland mountains, sang ballads with a clear soprano voice. She accompanied herself on the guitar, autoharp or the mountain dulcimer, a string instrument played while placed on the performer’s lap that Ritchie helped rescue from obscurity.

Among the hundreds of songs she performed were “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair,” ”Old Virginny,” ”One Morning in May” and “Aunt Sal’s Song.”

Hudson said Ritchie suffered a stroke several years ago and moved back to Kentucky from the East Coast.