It’s Hard to tell the Singer From the Song

During class on Wednesday our bluegrass class watched “It’s Hard to tell the Singer From the Song”. This movie tells the story of Hazel Dickens who is a bluegrass singer songwriter who has a unique sound that highlights issues like unions and the feminist movement. Dickens hails from Mercer County, West Virginia along with eleven other siblings. She got started with gospel music within the church, her dad usually encouraged her to sing in front of others and got her hooked on it. In the 1950’s she moved to Baltimore and began working with Mike Seeger’s wife, Alice Gerrard. They recorded two albums as “Hazel & Alice” and really were able to sing the songs of the hard times they lived. They had a sound that had a traditional yet exciting new feel that made the duo a huge success. I feel like they were ahead of their time, especially in a music industry that was mainly dominated by men. There are a variety of factors that cause bluegrass to have issues with being inclusive, but I recognize that I do not possess enough knowledge to uncover why. I think there is some limiting factors that the touring lifestyle creates but I do not believe that there are limiting factors for women in bluegrass with having talent. I really enjoyed seeing how Hazel was able to use her ability to perform as an example of how women can be successful bluegrass singer/songwriters. She earned countless awards and recognitions later in her career, which confirmed just how much of a national treasure she was.