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Hazel Dickens, folk and bluegrass musician, dies at 75

April 23, 2011 |  2:33 pm

Hazel Dickens, a folk singer and bluegrass musician who advocated for coal miners, has died. She was 75.

Dickens died Friday morning at a hospice in Washington, D.C., of complications from pneumonia. Her death was confirmed by Ken Irwin, a founder of Rounder Records, her label for about 40 years.

Dickens became a fixture in the bluegrass circuit in the 1960s and '70s with her musical partner, Alice Gerrard. The duo performed as Hazel & Alice. They were among the first prominent female bluegrass performers.

Dickens' music was later featured in the Oscar-winning 1976 documentary, "Harlan County U.S.A.," about Kentucky coal miners, and John Sayles' 1987 drama, "Matewan." Irwin said Dickens will be remembered for giving voice to coal miners.

Among her honors was a 2008 induction into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame and a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

-- Associated Press