Hazel Dickens Song Contest

The 2017 Hazel Dickens Song Contest has closed for entries as of January 5, 2017; the winning songs will be announced on February 15, 2017. Click here to see the contest rules.

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.


The winners of the 2016 Hazel Dickens Song Contest were announced on March 10, 2016.

1st Place: “Weeping Willows” by Talia Segal, Brighton, MA

2nd Place: “Turn and Burn” by David Morris,Gaithersburg, MD; Dave Adkins, Pikeville, KY; and Dawn Kenney, Waltham, MA

3rd Place: “My Brother Paul and Me” by Ronnie King, Paint Lick, KY

Honorable mentions:
“Oceans” by Casey Penn & Rodger King
“Blue Ridge Mountain Home” by Hunter and Suzy Owens
“I’ll Take Love” by Louisa Branscomb

We congratulate the winners and thank all the songwriters who participated in this year’s competition.

Our judges were Bob Lucas, Lee Michael Demsey, and Wayne Taylor.

All proceeds from the Hazel Dickens Song Contest go to support the DC Bluegrass Union, a 501(c)3 nonprofit membership organization with a mission to promote bluegrass music in the greater Washington region through education and performance.