When the DC Bluegrass Union launched their songwriting competition this year, it was a simple decision to name it in honor of Hazel Dickens, a nearly-native daughter who spent much of her life based in the Baltimore/Washington area.
Born in West Virginia in 1935, Hazel grew up amidst the poverty and hopelessness of the post-depression era in her home state. As a successful songwriter in the bluegrass and folk music world, she often explored themes that touched on the hard life and times of her childhood, before she passed in 2011.
The contest, which will accept entries for 2015 through January 1, will award a total of $850 its first year, distributed across three places. The winner will also be invited to perform their song during the 2015 DC Bluegrass Festival on February 20 in Vienna, VA.
To be eligible, each entrant must not derive more than 50% of their income from songwriting or publishing, and each song entered must be an original song that does not impinge on any other copyright. Lyrics and a recording of each entry must be submitted to DCBU.
These can be submitted on CD along with a completed entry form, or by .mp3 online. There is a $30 fee for each song submitted.
Each song will be judged by a panel of bluegrass songwriters, and their names will be revealed when the winners are announced next year. Focus of the judging will be on the content and the quality of the songs, separate from the production, performance, or recording of each entry.
The first prize winner will receive a $500 prize, with $250 going to second, and $100 to third.
Full details on the Hazel Dickens song contest can be found online.