Hazel and Alice, Pioneering Women of Bluegrass

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Harmonies that walk the line between raw and sweet.

They were an unlikely pair, were Hazel Dickens, the eighth of eleven children in a West Virginia mining family, and Alice Gerrard, the classically-trained Antioch College student. But the combo clicked, Alice's low voice providing an anchor while Hazel's soared. Their harmonies walked the line between raw and sweet and their sound and material owed more to mainstream country than did most bluegrass. Bill Monroe, who wrote “The One I Love Is Gone” for them and never recorded it himself, must have felt vindicated by their chilling, sorrowful reading. Hazel's original songs of empowerment for women and mineworkers also helped pave the way for her subsequent solo career.