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“I never knew I could until I tried.”

Hazel Dickens grew up in Mercer County, West Virginia. She was raised in a hardworking country family of 11 children who sang and played music together at home. Her preacher father taught her to love the old-time country way of singing. She wrote songs about people who work hard and love their home and land.

Many famous artists have recorded her songs, including Dolly Parton and Kathy Mattea. She has awards from the Smithsonian Institution, the International Folk Alliance, the International Bluegrass Music Association and many other organizations, and she was one of the first inductees of the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame.

Read about Hazel Dickens when she was a girl in West Virginia. Click here.

Listen to Hazel Dickens’s songs:

“Mama’s Hand” (lyrics)

As performed by Hazel Dickens

As performed by Lynn Morris

“Black Lung” (lyrics)

As performed by Hazel Dickens

As performed by Kathy Mattea

“West Virginia, My Home” (lyrics)

As performed by Hazel Dickens

“A Few Old Memories” (lyrics)

As performed by Dolly Parton

To hear a version by Elaine Boyle, click here.

“Clay County Miner” (lyrics)
Hazel Dickens wrote many songs about coal miners and other hardworking people. She wrote this song about an old man who started coal mining when men worked for pennies a day in very unsafe conditions.

As performed by Hazel Dickens

“Pretty Bird” (lyrics)
Hazel Dickens sings this song a capella, with no instruments, in the old mountain style she learned from her father. She wrote it in 1972, when she was 37 years old. She had moved from West Virginia to work in the Baltimore area. “I envied every little bird sitting on a high wire,” she said. “It could fly away at any given moment and be free.”

As performed by Hazel Dickens

Watch an interview with Hazel Dickens – part 1

Watch an interview with Hazel Dickens – part 2

Read more about Hazel Dickens: www.musicianguide.com

Working Girl Blues: The Life and Music of Hazel Dickens, 2009, University of Illinois Press

For lyrics to Hazel Dickens’s songs, click a title below:

“Mama’s Hand”

“West Virginia, My Home”

“A Few Old Memories”

“Clay County Miner”

“Black Lung”

Want to read stories about these artists when they were West Virginia schoolchildren? Want to hear their music? Just click on their pictures.

Bill Withers

Hazel Dickens

Billy Edd Wheeler