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12.02.02 Ritchie, Fiona, and Orr, Doug, Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia, published in 2014

Notes Concerning the Authors

Fiona Ritchie, 54, is a Scottish radio brandcaster and creator of National Pubic Radio’s popular weekly Celtic music program, ‘The Thistle & Shamrock’.  In the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours, Ritchie was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire for her services to broadcasting and Scottish traditional music.”  Doug Orr, 75, and of Scots-Irish ancestry, “A former vice-chancellor and faculty member at UNC Charlotte, is president emeritus of Warren Wilson College, founder of the WFAE public radio station and founder of the Swannanoa Gathering, a series of folk music workshops conducted at Warren Wilson College each summer.  Currently, he is interim chancellor of UNC Asheville.”  

Our Review

Based on the Charlotte Observer article of September 28, 2014, announcing the review of this new book, and based on this reviewer’s knowledge of Fiona Ritchie, he is confident that the collabrtive work of the two authors represents solid and truthful presentation of the subject and is fully worthy of the Society’s recommendation.  

The Scots-Irish of Scotland and Ulster Plantation, beginning their voyages to settle in America “crammed belongings into trunks but one precious item didn’t need packing: their musical traditions.  The ballads and traditions from their homeland comforted them on Atlantic crossings, and followed them in wagon trains down the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road through Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley into the Carolinas and westward toward the mountains.  In the high country’s misty coves, music from the Old World merged with sounds and songs of English, German, Welsh, African, French and Cherokee origin.  And it’s a legacy that continues to impact musicians today.  

Reviewers have called the work, “a stunningly beautiful book,” which “sets the record straight,” and “connects the dots of the migration of Scots-Irish and Irish families to North Carolina and Appalachia and how they brought their music with them.  These songs linked them to their roots in powerful, heartfelt ways.”

Availability of this Book

Just published, this book is available from all normal sources for $39.00.