Dickens, Hazel


  • From Mercer County, West Virginia. For many years lived in Georgetown, Washington D.C.
  • Daughter of a Primitive Baptist preacher who hauled timber for the coal mines.
  • Best known for singing and writing songs about coal mines, working-class people and women’s rights.
  • Recorded both as a soloist and also as a duo with Alice Gerrard.
  • Her songs have been recorded by Emmylou Harris (“Hello Stranger,” “The Sweetest Gift, A Mother’s Smile”), New Riders of the Purple Sage (“Don’t Put Her Down, You Helped Put Her There”) and other artists.
  • Several of her songs were used in the soundtrack to the Academy Award-winning documentary film, “Harlan County, USA.”
  • Has performed at some of the nation’s most impressive venues: the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City, Carnegie Hall, the Grand Ole Opry and the White House.
  • A social activist who continues to organize and perform at benefits for coal miners, labor unions, welfare rights groups and women’s organizations.
  • 1998, received an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Shepherd College, Shepherdstown, WV.
  • 2007, was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame.
  • Died April 22, 2011.
  • 2017, she (along with Alice Gerrard) was inducted into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.