BRISTOL, Tenn.-Va. (July 5, 2023) – Country singer-songwriter Karen Collins pays tribute to groundbreaking artist and Bluegrass Music Hall of Famer Hazel Dickens during a special performance at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Historic Downtown Bristol at 7 p.m. ET, July 7. Tickets are on sale now for $10.
“The program celebrates the life and legacy of the great Hazel Dickens as Collins performs some of Hazel’s best-loved songs,” said museum Head Curator Dr. Rene Rodgers. “Our Curatorial Specialist Toni Doman will also share stories of Hazel’s life within the context of our current special exhibit, I’ve Endured: Women in Old-Time Music.”
Karen Collins grew up in the mountains of Southwest Virginia in a coal mining community and spent her youth listening to country music radio and singing in her church. The echoes of those early country sounds stand out in her singing and songwriting. A prolific performer, Collins is the lead singer of the honky tonk outfit The Backroads Band, performs with a Cajun group called Squeeze Bayou, and sings in the acoustic country quartet The Blue Moon Cowgirls. Collins is an award-winning songwriter and has won multiple Wammies (Washington Area Music Awards) as a bandleader.
Singer, songwriter, musician and social activist Hazel Dickens’ career in music spanned five decades, leaving behind a legacy of songs that drew attention to the struggles of coal miners and the hard-working people of her West Virginia home and the Appalachian region. Her music spoke of truth to power about black lung, equality for women, the labor movement, and poverty, drawing on the sounds of Baptist hymns, Appalachian ballads, and country harmonies by groups such as the Louvin Brothers. Her musical partnership with Alice Gerrard broke new ground for women, influencing many generations to come. A few of Hazel’s best-known compositions are “West Virginia, My Home,” “Hills of Home,” “They’ll Never Keep Us Down,” and “Don’t Put Her Down, You Helped Put Her There.”
Dickens appeared in the Oscar-winning documentary Harlan County, USA, which centers on the struggle of the county’s miners union against scab workers, wage rights, and health conditions. She also contributed songs to the film’s soundtrack. Dickens also appeared in the films Matewan and Songcatcher. She received an International Bluegrass Music Association Merit Award in 1994 and became a National Heritage Fellow in 2001. Dickens passed away of complications due to pneumonia in 2011 at the age of 85.
Hazel Dickens is one of 50 women featured in the museum’s special exhibit I’ve Endured: Women in Old-Time Music, on display now through Dec. 31. Ticketholders to the concert are invited to take a free, curator-led tour of the exhibit prior to the concert at 6:15 p.m.
For tickets and more information on the Hazel Dickens tribute concert featuring Karen Collins, visit the Events page at BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org. For more information about the special exhibit, visit the website at WomenInOldTimeMusic.com.