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“Ruth Smith’s touch on the hammered dulcimer is absolutely magical, especially on her own pieces.” (Dirty Linen Folk & World Music Magazine)

A native North Carolinian, Ruth began playing music at a very young age and enjoys the adaptability of the hammered dulcimer to many types of music, from traditional fiddle tunes and Appalachian songs, to Celtic and classical melodies. After playing many different musical instruments through the years, she found the hammered dulcimer to be a “fit” to her personality and a wonderful tool of self-expression.

Ruth, who studied music at the University of Illinois, composes music especially for the hammered dulcimer and her compositions have been featured on NPR’s All Songs Considered and in Dulcimer Players News magazine. Neal Walters of Dulcimer Players News says “Ruth’s hammered dulcimer playing is mature, confident and very sensitive to the nuances of the music, allowing each tune to breathe.”

Ruth has been playing music together with her husband Steve for over 30 years. From their home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, they have performed their Celtic Appalachian music extensively in the U.S. from North Carolina to Hawaii. They have also been cultural music representatives of the Appalachian region touring abroad in Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, and Canada.

Ruth plays the hammered and Appalachian mountain dulcimers with Steve supporting on fingerstyle acoustic guitar, clawhammer banjo, and vocals. Steve and Ruth are two-time recipients of a North Carolina Arts Council grant. Their Celtic Appalachian music reflects their Scots-Irish heritage, Ruth’s classical music training and Steve’s mountain folk roots.

Steve and Ruth’s 2005 CD release “An Appalachian Aire” is ranked in the 50 top selling Celtic Folk CDs on CD Baby – the world’s largest seller of independent music CDs online and in retail outlets. It gained national attention and significant airplay during 2006, most notably being chosen by XM satellite radio as “The Best Music This Week on XM.” The title song, written by Ruth and entered here in this contest, was featured on NPR’s on-line show “All Songs Considered.” Steve and Ruth have two other recent CDs “Dancin’ Cross the Strings” (2007), which includes five of Ruth’s original pieces, and “An Appalachian Winter”(2008), which includes two of her contest entry compositions.

Besides writing and performing, Ruth also teaches hammered dulcimer workshops at festivals throughout the country.


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