This Music Monday we feature an original song by Kentucky songwriter Jean Ritchie. She wrote Black Waters as a response to strip mining she witnessed near the home she grew up in Viper, Kentucky. At the time, she was worried that no one would take a woman’s word seriously about an issue as serious as strip mining . As a result, she credited Than Hall (the name of her maternal grandfather) as the songwriter for Black Waters.
Ironically, many of the leaders of eastern Kentucky’s anti-strip mining movement during the 1960s were women who adopted Black Waters as one of their anthems. The song is still relevant today and has been covered by numerous country, folk and bluegrass musicians. Scroll down for Jean Ritchie’s version, followed by a newer version by country artist Kathy Mattea
Black Waters Jean Ritchie
Black Waters Kathy Mattea