Hazel Dickens: It’s Hard to Tell the Singer from the Song

This is a short preview trailer. You can watch the entire film at no charge on the Folkstreams website. Folkstreams is a nonprofit whose mission is to find, preserve, contextualize, and stream documentary films on American folklife.

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From the coalfields of West Virginia to the factories of Baltimore, Hazel Dickens has lived the songs she sings. A pioneering woman in bluegrass and hardcore country music, Hazel has influenced generations of songwriters and musicians. Her songs of hard work, hard times, and hardy souls have bolstered working people at picket lines and union rallies throughout the land. Her piercing vocals power the soundtracks for Harlan County USA and Matewan. The Washington Post described her as "a living legend of American music, a national treasure," and in 2001, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded her a National Heritage Fellowship. In this intimate portrait, interviews with Hazel and fellow musicians such as Alison Krauss, Naomi Judd, and Dudley Connell are interwoven with archival footage, recent performances, and 16 powerful songs including “Mama’s Hand,” “ Working Girl Blues,” and “Black Lung.”

"Hard To Tell The Singer From The Song" profiles a "modern" woman dealing with contemporary issues from a feminist perspective which has evolved from her own experiences, being Appalachian, being displaced physically and culturally, being poor and working class, being a woman artist in a man's world, and being a bearer of tradition.

  • Produced by: Mimi Pickering
  • Cinematographer: Jeffrey Whetstone, Malcom Wilson
  • Sound: Mimi Pickering, Rich Kirby, Doug Dorschug, Tom Hansell, Anne Lewis, Stephaine Whetstone, Kathy Reisler, Rachel Conley
  • Editor: Mimi Pickering
  • Other Credits: Archie Green, Helen Lewis, Buck Maggard, Candie & Guy Carawan, Mary Thom Adams, Highlander Research & Education Center, Ralph Rinzler, Kate Rinzler, Jeff Place,
  • Funding: National Endowment for the Arts, KET Fund for Independent Production, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, West Virginia Humanities Council, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Kentucky Arts Council, West Virginia Commission on the Arts, Appalachian Community Fund, Appalshop Production & Education
  • Original Format: Betacam SP
  • © 2001 Appalshop, Inc.
  • 1h, Color