JEAN RITCHIE: Kentucky Mother Goose

Jean Ritchie's Kentucky Mother Goose [Hal Leonard Publications]


Kentucky Mother Goose: Songs and Stories from My Childhood
Hal Leonard 9781495007880

Jean Ritchie was a phenomenal musician known as the Mother of Folk Music and for good reason. This wonderful book and CD is a collection of songs she learned growing up the youngest of fourteen children in Viper, Kentucky, and later, used in her teaching, for recordings and to sing with her own kids and grandkids.

The book is laid out well, with a section for each of several types of songs – “Songs at Home,” “Counting Out and Other Rhymes,” “Schoolyard Play and Other Rhymes,” and “Just for Fun.” Within each section is a wealth of songs, some you might recognize, such as “Hush Little Baby” and “London’s Bridge,” for a total of forty-seven tunes. Most of these were new to me, and perhaps to you, revealing a wonderful history of this rich tradition. Each song is accompanied by pleasing stories telling us about when and where she learned the tune, or sometimes, a family memory connected with the song.

Co-writer Susan Brumfield did a wonderful job of reporting, yet, keeping everything so authentic, you can hear Jean’s voice. Each song is clearly notated. If you don’t read music, or would rather hear the music, don’t despair. There is a wonderful accompanying CD where you can hear Jean singing the songs. Most are done a capella although a few are from her LPs where she is accompanied by her beautiful dulcimer work. I love that you can hear Jean introduce some of the songs, making it more personal, like the two of you are sitting by a cozy fire, sipping tea.

The photos are great, too, some that are directly associated with the song and others, general photos of Jean throughout her career. We recently lost this dear artist so it’s a great blessing to have this from her. It’s highly recommended for anyone with an interest in traditional folk tunes for kids, especially participatory kinds of songs … but it’s great for anyone who loves authentic folk music.

Jamie Anderson

About Jamie Anderson

Jamie Anderson has done just about every job in music, from radio DJ to touring musician. She’s written for a plethora of music and LGBT publications; in May 2014 she published a memoir, Drive All Night. When she’s not obsessing over her latest writing project — a book about women’s music — she teaches guitar, mandolin, ukulele and songwriting in Ottawa, Ontario where she shares a home with her wife and two felines. She’s a singer-songwriter who’s recorded ten albums including the latest, Dare. Jamie loves dark chocolate, cats, and Orange is the New Black although she’d like to see a good TV show about lesbians that doesn’t include prison or a lead character dying.

Comments are closed.