Monday Music: Hazel Dickens Singing “West Virginia, My Home,” 1978

hazel youngThis past Saturday would have been Hazel Dickens’s 88th birthday. She passed away in 2011.

She was a songwriter and singer, played guitar and upright bass, and is best known for her biting songs about workers’ rights, the injustice of big coal, and the fight for womens’ equality.

Set against the backdrop of bluegrass musicality, her songs deal with concepts of home, loss, poverty, and family. You can read one of our previous articles about Hazel here. 

Here’s an old recording of her performing with Phyllis Boyens at the 1978 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

To hear recordings of Hazel singing with longtime musical partner, Alice Gerrard, go here.

In 2002 Appalshop released a film about Dicken’s life. Created by Mimi Pickering’s and taking its title from one of Hazel’s best-loved songs, It’s Hard to Tell the Singer from the Song, explores Dicken’s role as a songwriter and outspoken voice for justice. You can watch a short clip from the film below.

What’s your favorite Hazel song? Tell us and we’d love to share it in an upcoming Monday Music post! Click on the “Contact Us” link above.


Monday Music posts are part of a regular series on the Boiled Down Juice exploring music that unites the past with the present, articulates where we’ve been and where we want to go. Sometimes it’s just about sharing a song we love. We’d love to hear about the songs you love.