There she met Alan Lomax, who recorded her songs for the Library of Congress and became her advocate and lifelong friend.
In 19, Jean Ritchie recorded several hours of songs, stories, and oral history for Alan Lomax in New York City. “The vigor and charm of these living English folk songs may surprise most listeners, perhaps most of all the British,” wrote Alan Lomax in 1955.
The Lomaxes and other collectors of their time (and also decades later) found some of the most powerful vernacular music of the American South in the region’s oppressive and violent prison system.
The songs they found there, John and Alan Lomax wrote, “or songs like them were formerly sung all over the South.
“They began with blues as a record of the problems of love and women in the Delta world,” Lomax wrote.