Hazel Dickens Song Contest

Hazel DickensThe 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.

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.

Hazel Dickens Song Contest – Rules and How To Enter

Contest Rules

Prizes, Judging, Performance, and Rights

  • Prizes will be awarded to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners. Prizes are awarded jointly to all co-authors; the award will be sent to the author whose name and address is on the entry form. Division of prize money among co-authors is the responsibility of winners.
    • 1st place: $500, winner performs their winning song at the 2018 DC Bluegrass Festival, and two full-festival passes
    • 2nd place: $250
    • 3rd place: $100
  • Entries will be judged by a 3-judge panel of bluegrass/songwriting industry leaders whose identities will be made public when winners are announced. Please know that all submissions are duly listened to and treated fairly by our volunteer judges. All entries will be judged on originality, lyrics and melody. Music production and performance quality are not considered in the judging process. All decisions by judges are final.
  • Contestant authors retain all rights to their work.

Contest Opening and Deadline

  • The Hazel Dickens Song Contest will accept entries beginning October 16, 2017.
  • The entry deadline is midnight on January 5, 2018. All online entries and entry fee payments must be received by this time, and all entry fees submitted by mail must be postmarked no later than January 5.
  • The top 3 winners will be announced February 15, 2018.


  • The Hazel Dickens Song Contest is open to all whose primary source of income (50 percent or more) is not derived from songwriting or music publishing. Income from performances is not considered songwriting income.
  • All entries must be the original work of contestants and shall not infringe on any copyright or any other rights of any third party. Contestants may enter as many songs as desired.
  • All songs submitted must be in the bluegrass genre (including gospel). No instrumentals, please.
  • Each entry must consist of an audio file of a vocal performance and an accompanying text file containing the written lyrics; instrumental accompaniment on recordings is encouraged but not required. Lyrics should be recorded and written in English.

Contest Entry

How To Submit Entries

  • For each song entered, please submit an audio file containing a performance of the song and a text file containing the lyrics. Files may be submitted two ways:
    • 1) Attach the audio and text files to an email and send them to hazeldickenscontest@gmail.com. File size limit for emails is 10MB; please send one email per entry and include a note identifying yourself.
    • 2) Upload the audio and text files to your Dropbox account and share them to hazeldickenscontest@gmail.com.
    • For audio files, MP3 format is preferred; M4A, ACC, OGG, WMA, WAV, and AIFF are acceptable. Video files, YouTube videos, and SoundCloud links will not be accepted. Files exceeding 10MB must be shared via Dropbox rather than emailed. As the files must be anonymous when sent to the judges, please do not include any information identifying contestants either within the file or as meta-data.
    • For lyrics, plain text files (TXT) are preferred. Word DOC, Word DOCX, and RTF are acceptable; no PDFs, please. As with the audio files, please do not include any information identifying contestants in the lyric files.
    • PLEASE NOTE: CDs by mail are no longer accepted; all entries must be submitted by email or Dropbox as described above.

How to Submit Entry Fees

  • The entry fee is $30 per song entered.
  • Entry fees may be submitted online via PayPal or by check via postal mail.