I was just facebooking with Hazel’s son, Herman, this past weekend and learned that Hazel wasn’t doing well, but her death still came as a shock followed by a deep sense of loss. I’ve idolized the White Mountain Band since I moved to New York in the 1980s. Their music really spoke to me and reminded me of my early childhood days listening to singing from backwoods Baptist churches and church camps. Hazel and Mac epitomized that haunting mountain harmony that is a signature of original bluegrass pioneers.

James with Hazel McGee at 2005 Jamboree

James with Hazel McGee at 2005 Jamboree

I remember the year that Hazel & Mac performed at the Park Slope Jamboree. It was such a thrill to join them on stage and sing a few old gospel songs with them. Their contribution to the music we love will live on forever in the worldwide community of bluegrass. I’m sure Hazel is making herself at home in heaven.

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