Anne Grimes, the Ohio folk singer and scholar who was one of the nation's preeminent authorities on the musical heritage of the Midwest, died of natural causes January 14 at her residence at Kendal at Oberlin, Oberlin, Ohio. Formerly of Granville, Ohio, she was 91.
A classically-trained vocalist and an accomplished pianist, Mrs. Grimes in the early 1950's began to travel from her home in Upper Arlington throughout Ohio to track down hundreds of traditional songs, which she tape-recorded, researched and sang in performance. She also became an expert in the lore and techniques of the plucked, lap or Appalachian dulcimer, and the Anne Grimes Dulcimer collection of these rare folk instruments at the Smithsonian Institution ranks among the nation's finest. In 1997, Mrs. Grimes with her long-time friend Joe Hickerson, folklorist at the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, performed traditional songs in a presentation of her dulcimer collection at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. Her 1957 Folkways recording of "Ohio State Ballads: History Through Folk Songs: Anne Grimes, With Dulcimer" was reissued in 1991 on tape cassette by the Smithsonian.
"Everybody thinks you find folk music in the hills; you don't * it's in people's heads," Anne Grimes told a reporter for the Columbus Citizen-Journal in 1971 before performing at Governor John Gilligan's Inaugural Gala at the Ohio Theater in Columbus, Ohio. "In the folk music field, the technical term is 'informants;' I prefer to think of the people as contributors."
The songs of her contributors * who included people from all walks of life, the most prominent of whom was Carl Sandburg, the poet -- are preserved in her audiotape collection housed in the Ohio Historical Society and the Library of Congress. At the time of her death, she was working on a book honoring both the songs and the people who sang them, many of whom became her close friends.
Born May 17, 1912 in Columbus, Ohio, Mrs. Grimes attended North High School, graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees, and did graduate work in Music History at Ohio State University. From 1942-1946, she worked as Music and Dance Critic of the Columbus Citizen. She served as a judge from 1961 to 1993 at the national competition Dulcimer Days in Roscoe, Ohio.
She had been president and editor of the Ohio Folklore Society, a member of the Advisory Board of the National Folk Festival, and an archivist of the National Federation of Music Clubs. Her awards included a Distinguished Career in Music Award presented in June 1993 at the Ohio State University School of Music Honors Convocation; and the Alumni Awards Distinguished Achievement Citation in 1994 from Ohio Wesleyan University. She held honorary life memberships in the Ohio Historical Society; Delta Kappa Gamma, the educational honorary, and the Ohio Folklore Society.
Her husband, Dr. James W. Grimes, chair of the Art Department at Denison University until his retirement in 1969, died in 1981. She is survived by five children: Stephen Grimes, Westerville, Ohio; Sally Grimes, Amherst, Massachusetts; Jennifer Grimes Kay, Chagrin Falls, Ohio; Mary Grimes, Brooklyn, New York; and Mindy Grimes, Hotchkiss, Colorado; a grandson Dr. Sean Kay, professor in the Department of Politics and Government and chair of International Studies Program at Ohio Wesleyan University; and three great-grandchildren, Cria Anne, Siobhan Mattie, and Alana Rose.
A memorial service for friends and family will be at 3 p.m., Friday, January 30th at Kendal at Oberlin. Anne Grimes donated her body to the School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Salvation Army or the Ohioana Library.
American Folklife Center
The Library of Congress
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phone: (202) 707-1733
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