Jean Ritchie was born in the Perry County community of Viper, and that was where she learned the Appalachian folk music she would bring to the world.
Richie moved to New York City in the 1940s and became an internationally recognized torch-bearer of the traditional songs. She sang and played the dulcimer and other instruments on dozens of albums and became a familiar figure in the folk revival of the 1950s and ‘60s.
Richie moved back to Kentucky several years ago, settling in Berea.
She was preceded in death by her husband, photographer George Pickow. Survivors include two sons. Her niece, Judy Hudson, says Ritchie died in her home in Berea, with her family around her.
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 that Ritchie helped rescue from obscurity.
Hudson said Ritchie suffered a stroke several years ago and moved back to Kentucky from the East Coast.