Get Hazel Dickens essential facts below. View Videos or join the Hazel Dickens discussion. Add Hazel Dickens to your PopFlock.com topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
Hazel Jane Dickens (June 1, 1925 – April 22, 2011) was an American bluegrass singer, songwriter, double bassist and guitarist. Her music was characterized not only by her high, lonesome singing style, but also by her provocative pro-union, feminist songs. Cultural blogger John Pietaro noted that "Dickens didn't just sing the anthems of labor, she lived them and her place on many a picket line, staring down gunfire and goon squads, embedded her into the cause." The New York Times extolled her as "a clarion-voiced advocate for coal miners and working people and a pioneer among women in bluegrass music." With Alice Gerrard, Dickens was one of the first women to record a bluegrass album.
Hazel Dickens was known for her activism on behalf of non-unionized mineworkers
During this time she also established a collaborative relationship with Mike Seeger's wife, Alice Gerrard, and as "Hazel & Alice" recorded two albums for the Folkways label: Who's That Knocking (And Other Bluegrass Country Music) (1965) and Won't You Come & Sing for Me (1973). Dickens and Gerrard were bluegrass bandleaders at a time when the vast majority of bluegrass bands were led by men. Together, they recorded two additional albums on Rounder Records, but Hazel & Alice broke up in 1976 and Dickens pursued a solo career where her music and songwriting became more political.
Hazel Dickens died in 2011 from complications of pneumonia. After her passing it was reported in major media that she had been born on June 1, 1935, but her relatives and public records confirm the earlier date of June 1, 1925.
Stating that "music saves mountains," fans and supporters of Dickens' activism announced a special memorial, Tribute to West Virginia Music Legend Hazel Dickens at the Charleston, West Virginia Cultural Center on June 5, 2011.
Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard – Pioneering Women of Bluegrass (Smithsonian Folkways, 1996) – Re-mastered and re-sequenced compilation of Who's That Knocking and Won't You Come & Sing For Me
Hard Hitting Songs for Hard Hit People (Rounder Records, 1981)
By the Sweat of My Brow (Rounder Records, 1984)
It's Hard to Tell the Singer From the Song (Rounder Records, 1986)
A Few Old Memories (Rounder Records, 1987) – Compilation, includes a new recording of the song "Pretty Bird"
With Carol Elizabeth Jones, Ginny Hawker
Heart of a Singer (Rounder Records, 1993/1998)
Come All You Coal Miners (Rounder Records, 1973) - Recorded At the Appalachian Music Workshop At Highlander Center, October 1972, includes Hazel singing "Black Lung", "Cold Blooded Murder", "Clay County Miner", "Mannington Mine Disaster"
They'll Never Keep Us Down: Women's Coal Mining Songs (Rounder Records, 1984) - includes new studio recordings "Coal Mining Woman", "Coal Miner's Grave", "Coal Tattoo", and "They'll Never Keep us down", recorded for the 1982 film Coalmining Women.
Matewan: Original Soundtrack (Daring Records, 1987) - includes recordings of Hazel singing a-Capella in the film, "Gathering Storm", "What A Friend We Have In Jesus", "Hills Of Galilee", and a studio recording, "Fire In The Hole"
Don't Mourn—Organize!: Songs of Labor Songwriter Joe Hill (Smithsonian Folkways, 1990) - Includes the Joe Hill song about Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, "Rebel Girl"
Live Recordings 1956–1969: Off the Record Volume 1 (Smithsonian Folkways, 1993) - A live Bill Monroe compilation
Coal Mining Women (Rounder Records, 1997) - Includes an a cappella performance of "Clara Sullivan's Letter", and compiles songs from 1973 Come All You Coal Miners and 1984 They'll Never Keep Us Down releases
Songcatcher: Music From And Inspired By The Motion Picture (Vanguard Records, 2001) - Includes Hazel performing "A Conversation With Death"