- From Mercer County, West Virginia. For many years lived in Georgetown, Washington D.C.
- Daughter of a Primitive Baptist preacher who hauled timber for the coal mines.
- Best known for singing and writing songs about coal mines, working-class people and women’s rights. Recorded as a soloist and also in a duo with Alice Gerrard.
- Her songs have been recorded by Emmylou Harris (“Hello Stranger,” “The Sweetest Gift, A Mother’s Smile”), New Riders of the Purple Sage (“Don’t Put Her Down, You Helped Put Her There”) and other artists.
- Several of her songs were used in the soundtrack to the Academy Award-winning documentary film, “Harlan County, USA.”
- Has performed at some of the nation’s most impressive venues: the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, Carnegie Hall, the Grand Ole Opry and the White House.
- A social activist who continues to organize and perform at benefits for coal miners, labor unions, welfare rights groups and women’s organizations.
- 1998, received an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Shepherd College, Shepherdstown, WV.
- 2007, was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame.
- Died April 22, 2011.
- 2017, she (along with Alice Gerrard) was inducted into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.
- Hard Hitting Songs For Hard Hit People (Rounder, 2009)
- A Few Old Memories (Rounder, 1990)
- It’s Hard to Tell the Singer From the Song (Rounder, 1987)