Gender in Bluegrass

Over the past few weeks we have been going over gender in bluegrass. Discussing the hardships that women had to go through in order to create their space in the genre. Surprisingly, most of the speed-bumps came from other women who did not think that a woman should travel and do shows, but instead stay at home and care for the children.

Clearly this is not the way Abigail Washburn sees her role in the family, and going back further, Hazel Dickens fought long and hard to gain her place. In a past movie documentary, “Its hard to tell the Singer from the Song.” This is actually were I would like to maintain the focus of the blog. This film was absolutely perfect as far as explaining the hardships that everyone faced when people had to leave the farm and go to work in the cities.


One scene that was particularly interesting was when Hazel explains how she wrote her song “Workin Girl Blues.” It was pretty awesome that she wrote it on the back of an inventory list while at work stocking shelves. She had a great work ethic and it really came through in her music. Ever since she was young she began understanding the importance of music and her voice as it moved many people and enhanced the voices of the people around her.

One of my favorite parts in the film was when she sung her song “Black Lung” and the way she put so much passion and soul into it. She wrote it to protest the mines after her brother passed away from getting black lung from working down in the earth. The way she was able to move people and cause so much of a stir was brilliant. If you have not had a chance to see the film, I highly recommend it. You will laugh, you will get sad, and you will be moved. She really showed me the importance of the voice and its place in helping begin progression in society.

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