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Inaugural Hazel Dickens Song Contest Winners Announced

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Hazel DickensIn a special announcement from the DC Bluegrass Union, the Union offers congratulations to all the winners and a very appreciative "Thank you!" to all who entered the contest. There were 81 songs submitted by 45 different songwriters. The association was glad to be part of such a creative community.

The Hazel Dickens song contest celebrates the life and muse of one of bluegrass music's most beloved songwriters. From hardscrabble beginnings in West Virginia coal country in 1935, Hazel moved to Baltimore, MD, as a young woman to find factory work and quickly connected with local musicians. She started performing throughout the Baltimore/Washington region and was soon recognized for her singular mountain singing style and her gift with a lyric.

The winners of the first Hazel Dickens Song Contest have been selected:

  • 1st place: "Say What You Mean" by Gary A. Ferguson of Alexandria, VA
  • 2nd place: "Midnight Flight" by Nancy Cardwell Erdos of Madison, TN
  • 3rd place: "Weeds Where the Flowers of Love Once Grew" by David Morris of Gaithersburg, MD and Chris Dockins of Burke, VA.

Honorable mentions:

  • "Baltimore Immigrants" by Karen Collins of Takoma Park, MD
  • "Tenth Day of September" by David Morris of Gaithersburg, MD
  • "Barre Angel 1918" by Tracy O"Connell of Newburyport, MA

Hazel wrote of coal miners, unionization, hard times, feminism and much more. She recorded several albums with duo partner Alice Gerrard in the 1960s and 1970s and went on to release four records as a solo artist. Among her best known songs are "Won't You Come and Sing for Me," "West Virginia My Home," "Few Old Memories" and "Mama’s Hand." Hazel was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship in 2001 from the National Endowment for the Arts. Her life came to a close in 2011 following complications from pneumonia.

As the winner of this event, Gary A. Ferguson will perform his song, "Say What You Mean," on the main stage at the DC Bluegrass Festival on February 28th at the Sheraton Tysons Hotel in Vienna, VA.

The contest was judged by John Starling, Dudley Connell and Dede Wyland. Listen to the winning songs here.

The Hazel Dickens Song Contest wishes to congratulate the winners and thank all the contestants and judges for making the competition a success. For more information contact Randy Barrett at 703-405-6230 The Hazel Dickens Song Contest honors the life and muse of one of bluegrass music"s most beloved songwriters. All proceeds help fund the nonprofit DC Bluegrass Union in its mission to promote bluegrass music in the greater Washington area through performance and education.

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