WASHINGTON - Hazel Dickens, a bluegrass singer whose lyrics paid homage to her coal-mining roots in West Virginia, died in Washington. She was 75.
Singing for decades of poverty and loss, music historian Charles Wolfe told The Washington Post in 2001 Dickens' voice "has not only that 'high lonesome sound,' but you can hear the pain and anguish and the anger in it. It is absolutely heartfelt and sincere."
Dickens grew up in a three-room shack in West Virginia and supported herself from the age of 16.
She figured in the women's movement of the 1960s and appeared often at union rallies across the country as a supporter of workers' rights, the newspaper reported.
She died of complications from pneumonia.
Dickens was born in 1935 and grew up in poverty, the daughter of a mine delivery driver and part-time banjo-playing preacher in Montcalm, W.Va. She had 10 siblings.
Three of her brothers died from mining-related illness. She is survived by one other brother.
Dickens got her start playing with hillbilly bands before forming a collaborative relationship with Mike Seeger, half-brother of folk icon Pete Seeger, who she met in a tuberculosis sanitarium. She toured alongside Joan Baez and others, releasing several of her own albums.