Hazel Dickens passes

Hazel Dickens, a musical pioneer who paved the way for female bluegrass artists like Alison Krauss, Rhonda Vincent and Claire Lynch, died today at 75.

Dickens had been in ill health throughout the winter and was not able to be on hand last weekend when the D.C. Bluegrass Union presented her with its Washington Monument award for contributions to bluegrass.

Her death was confirmed by Ken Irwin, president of Rounder Records, her label.

There’s no word from Rounder on the fate of two projects with links to Hazel – her first solo CD in years and a star-studded tribute that has been in the works for a decade. The producer of that project, Todd Phillips, said Sunday that he hoped to wrap up the tribute while Hazel was alive.

We’ll offer an expanded appreciation of Hazel and her music later today.