One of the truly great voices in Southern music, Hazel Dickens, passed peacefully last night following a brief illness at the age of 75.
Born June 1, 1935, in Mercer County, West Virginia, Hazel was an American bluegrass singer, songwriter, bassist and guitarist. The eighth eleven siblings in a mining family, her music is characterized not only by her powerful, high-lonesome singing style, but also by her provocative pro-union, feminist stance.
Hazel had reportedly been in declining health through the winter. Two projects celebrating her life in music are currently in the works with Rounder Records: a tribute project and her first studio recording in at least a decade. She was a great friend to folk music in general, and Sing Out! in particular over the years, volunteering her performances for many a benefit event through the decades. Hazel was the real thing, and her voice will be sadly missed.
Here’s a video from a 2003 appearance at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival: