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Hazel Dickens

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Hazel Dickens CD Cover

Hazel Dickens CD Cover

© Rounder Records

Description of Hazel Dickens's Music:

Bluegrass, singer-songwriter, protest music

Comparisons:

Hazel Dickens's work spans the reach of bluegrass, country and singer-songwriter-style protest music. Her work with Alice Gerrard was some of the most influential bluegrass music of their generation and fans of contemporary bluegrass and stringband music would be best advised to check out their duo work. She also spent a good amount of time singing about the trials and tribulations of coal mining people and her work to that end has been revived recently by Kathy Mattea among others. Fans of the Carter Family, Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Pete Seeger, and the New Lost City Ramblers would also find something in Dickens' work to appreciate.

Purchase/Download Hazel Dickens MP3s:

Recommended CDs by Hazel Dickens:

Hazel & Alice (Rounder, 1978) Compare Prices

Hard Hitting Songs for Hard Hit People (Rounder, 1981) Compare Prices

It's Hard to Tell the Singer From the Song (Rounder, 1987) Compare Prices

Books About Hazel Dickens:

Working Girl Blues (Univ. of Illinois Press) Compare Prices

Hazel Dickens Biography:

Born in June, 1935, and raised in West Virginia, Hazel Dickens grew up the eighth of 11 children. Her father played banjo, drove trucks, and preached the gospel in a Baptist church. When she was 19, she moved to Baltimore to make a living working in factories, and to try to help support her very poor family.

Together with her siblings, Dickens began attending music festivals, where she met and formed a group with Mike Seeger. She became an instrumental presence in the local folk and bluegrass scene, playing with several bands in the areas around Washington, D.C.

She also began working with Mike Seeger's wife Alice Gerrard, with whom she recorded several early feminist folk songs and old time tunes. Hazel & Alice toured extensively together and became an influential force in the budding singer-songwriter and traditional folk scenes of the mid-20th century folk music revival. They went their separate ways in 1973.

Following the split, Dickens recorded a number of albums and contributed her work to several films, including Harlan County USA and With Babies and Banners. She contributed her music and ideas to the plight of the Highlander School in Tennessee, where there had been a long history of using arts and culture as tools for social change. Her affiliation with Highlander lasted for the rest of her life.

Counting the six albums Dickens made as one half of Hazel & Alice, she recorded eleven albums in all throughout her career, and was included on nearly two dozen compilations focused on old time, bluegrass, mountain music, and labor songs. She contributed music to five movies in her life, including Black Lung - a film which captured the topic closest to Dickens' heart - the plight of coal mining people and the troubles they've seen.

On April 22, 2011, Hazel Dickens died at the age of 75.

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