April 22, 2011: Old-Time and Bluegrass Musician Hazel Dickens Dies

Hazel Dickens

Musician Hazel Dickens died in Washington, D.C., on April 22, 2011, at age 75. Oftentimes called the “Voice of West Virginia,” Appalachian music matriarch Hazel Dickens was a pioneer of old-time and bluegrass music, known for preserving the traditional vocal styles of West Virginia

And songs like “Black Lung,” “Mannington Mines,” and “They’ll Never Keep Us Down” demonstrated her commitment to working people and labor unions. Many of her compositions, such as “Mama’s Hands,” recalled her West Virginia youth. Perhaps her most famous song is this endearing tribute to her native state, “West Virginia, My Home.”

Dickens was featured in a number of movies, including Matewan and the Oscar-winning Harlan County, USA. She was honored with the National Endowment for the Arts’ National Heritage Fellowship, the nation’s highest honor given to folk artists. Hazel Dickens also was in the inaugural class of the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame.