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Jean Redpath archive

Identifier: SCU-RBSC-2017-4

Jean Redpath (1937-2014) was considered by many to be the preeminent interpreter and performer of Scottish folk music. Born to musical parents in Edinburgh in 1937, Redpath was exposed to traditional Scottish music from an early age. While attending the University of Edinburgh, she met Hamish Henderson, whose recordings of traditional Scots music helped provide inspiration for Redpath to pursue a musical career. She arrived in San Francisco in 1961 and quickly earned a reputation as a knowledgeable and moving performer. Making her way to Greenwich Village, she gained the respect of Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Bob Dylan. Around this time a glowing New York Times review of one of her performances helped to launch her career. During her lifetime she recorded dozens of albums featuring Scottish folksongs and ballads. She received particular acclaim for her recordings of songs collected and written by Robert Burns. These recordings were undertaken in a decades-long project with composer Serge Hovey which lasted until his death in 1989. Outside the studio, Redpath was renowned for her ability to engage and entertain live audiences, spending much of her time performing across the United States and Europe. In particular, she made several appearances on A Prairie Home Companion and was a frequent performer at various Robert Burns societies and celebrations. She also served as artist in residence at both Wesleyan and Stirling University. Throughout her career she received recognition for her talents in numerous ways and was awarded several honorary doctorates, as well as being appointed both a Kentucky Colonel and, in 1987, Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE). The collection contains material of both personal and professional interest spanning her lifetime but predominantly from the 1980s onward. Personal items include photographs and letters from friends and family, a brief series of journal entries, and vacation itineraries and mementos. Redpath’s interests outside of music are further highlighted by her collection of recipes, humorous cartoons and records of psychic readings she had done for her. Material related to her professional career occupies the larger portion of this collection. Recording and performance contracts, financial records, fan mail, and performance notes can be found. Several collections of Scottish folk song lyrics, indexed by Redpath, are also included, along with listings of her recorded material. One series is dedicated to her later work with Serge Hovey, an undertaking especially dear to her. Of particular interest is the Manuscript series, as it contains several versions of an unpublished manuscript of traditional Scottish folksongs (Scottish Songs: A Personal Collection) selected by Redpath. The manuscripts contain her reflections and notes on these particular songs and why they were chosen, as well as photographs she selected to accompany them.


  • 1906-2015


Access Restrictions

Open to Research

Publication Rights

All rights reside with the creator. For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.


8 boxes


Gift, 2017

Repository Details

Part of the Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections Repository

Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library
1322 Greene Street
Columbia SC 29208 USA
(803) 777-3847

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