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Bluegrass legend Hazel Dickens to perform

October 6, 2003

Photo of Hazel DickensAppalachian singer and songwriter Hazel Dickens' lifework takes center stage on campus for an evening of music and conversation 7:30 Wednesday in Jack Adams Hall of the Cesar Chavez Student Center. The event features songs from throughout Dickens' career and what promises to be a lively dialogue between her and labor folklorist Archie Green on the deeper meanings of labor songs and worker culture. Admission is free and open to the public.

Dickens grew up in and around Appalachian coal camps, where she became well acquainted with the harsh conditions of life in the mines. She started out singing in a church choir, and in the late '50s she became part of the folk and bluegrass scene in Baltimore.

As she grew as a performer, Dickens transformed her firsthand experience of the hardships faced by Appalachian coal miners and Baltimore factory workers into the inspiration and material for a lifelong musical career that speaks eloquently of hard work and hard times.

Driven by a conviction that traditional music is still relevant and alive today, she continues to perform and record. She draws upon own work as well as such venerable sources as the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Wilma Lee Cooper, the Blue Sky Boys and Bill Monroe.

Dickens has been featured in such films as the Academy Award-winning documentary "Harlan County, USA," John Sayles' "Matewan" and, most recently, "Songcatcher."

Green, a shipwright, teacher and author, has written extensively on labor culture and song. He was a driving force behind the passage of the American Folklife Preservation Act of 1976.

The event is sponsored by the Labor Archives and Research Center, Poetry Center, Friends of the J. Paul Leonard Library and Associated Students Performing Arts. For details, contact the Labor Archives at (415) 564-4010 or

-- William Morris


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Last modified October 6, 2003, by the Office of Public Affairs