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The IBMA and Hazel Dickens

Donald Teplyske  |  October 17, 2016

I know about three things.

One, I will never not tear up listening to "Me and John and Paul," grammar be damned.

Two, The first time I heard The Osborne Brothers in concert, my life veered in a new and wonderful direction.

And Three, I have seldom been as upset by something in the bluegrass world as I was a couple weeks ago when I read, via a fine writer David Morris and Bluegrass Today, that Hazel Dickens has been 'shut out' of the IBMA Hall of Fame because of-it is suggested-one person.

In his article, Morris outlined some changes announced by the International Bluegrass Music Association for their Hall of Fame process. The IBMA has decided to name three folks annually, up from two, with the aim to allow more deserving legends into the Hall.

Which is not the part that is upsetting. Nope, that is a darned fine idea.

It is the other revelation that Morris makes that has had me upset for the past two weeks.

What Morris also revealed-citing unnamed but multiple sources-is that Hazel Dickens was not even listed on the past year's ballot, and that her candidacy for the IBMA HofF was held up-apparently-by a single, influential member of the HofF committee who didn't feel Dickens was worthy despite widespread support both while she was living and subsequent to her death in 2011. This same person, who has now been replaced, reportedly single-handedly created this past year's ballot of HofF possibilities, leaving Dickens' name off the list.

Holy what? says I!

I find it absolutely tragic that one unnamed person could apparently manipulate and sway a process so completely. All the other IBMA stuff that has caused concern over the past few years-and there has been a lot-may have been more impactful on the direction of the organization and on the involvement of potential members, but this issue gobsmacks me in a way the infighting and questionable practices never did.

I haven't seen any denials of anything in David's article, so I have to accept that he has the basics of the story accurate.

Like David Morris, I am hoping that this change in the HofF process changes my annual disappointment when Hazel Dickens' name has been missing from the inductees. It may be much too late to give Dickens her flowers while living, it isn't too late to correct what appears to have been a grievous wrong that has been perpetuated due to the feelings of a single influential member of the IBMA.

I do believe the unnamed person's name should be known so that he or she can accept the well-deserved scorn of the bluegrass community as do the rest of us when we deserve it...and sometimes when we don't!

Hazel Dickens belongs in the IBMA Hall of Fame. Maybe after all these years, her time has come.

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