Bluegrass Singer Hazel Dickens Dies

Hazel Dickens, a pioneer among female bluegrass musicians, died Friday (April 22) in a hospice in Washington, D.C., from pneumonia complications. She was 75. Dickens partnered with Alice Gerrard, the wife of folk singer Mike Seeger, to form the duo Hazel & Alice, one of the first bluegrass bands led by women. Dickens and Gerrard wrote songs together, as well as covered material they learned from folk festivals and the files at the Library of Congress. The duo broke up in 1976. In addition, Dickens was known for speaking out on behalf of coal miners in her native West Virginia. She also appeared in the Oscar-winning documentary, Harlan County, USA, about Kentucky coal miners, and the accompanying soundtrack featured four of her original songs. She was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in 2008 and had received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.