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Songwriter Dixie Hall Dead at 80

Tom T Hall Dixie Hall
Stephen Lovekin, Getty Images

Dixie Hall — a notable Nashville songwriter and the wife of Country Music Hall of Famer Tom T. Hall — has passed away.

According to Nashville’s Tennessean newspaper, Hall died Friday (Jan. 16) after a long illness. She was 80 years old.

Born Iris Violet May Lawrence, Hall was raised in the West Midlands in England. She got her first taste of public life at age 10, when she won a BBC poetry contest and got to travel to London to read her winning verse on the radio. Years later, a chance encounter with singing cowboy star Tex Ritter led her to a career in promotion and publicity at Starday Records, which prompted her to move to Nashville.

In Music City Hall lived with Mother Maybelle Carter, whose future son-in-law, Johnny Cash, recorded two songs she wrote with Hall; ‘A Letter From Home’ and ‘Troublesome Waters.’ Hall also wrote Dave Dudley’s hit, ‘Truck Drivin’ Son of a Gun,’ which led to her meeting her future husband at the BMI Country Awards.

The couple married in 1968, and Miss Dixie — as her friends called her — discontinued her career while her husband pursued an enormously successful string of hits. She focused instead on charity work, raising more than a million dollars for Nashville’s Humane Society over the years. After her husband retired in the ’90s, she hounded him to not let his music die, and the pair began to write bluegrass songs together.

They eventually won a Grand Masters Gold prize from the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America, after winning 10 consecutive Songwriters of the Year awards. Dixie Hall also received a Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association, and created an independent record label, Blue Circle Records, as well as a publishing company, Good Home Grown Music.

In 2014 Miranda Lambert recorded one of Hall’s songs, ‘All That’s Left’,’ for her CMA Album of the Year winner, ‘Platinum.’ In late 2014 Hall released her very first single as a performer, a song of hers titled ‘Sunny Flower One.’

In recent years Hall had suffered from a brain tumor, as well as other health problems. Her funeral service will be private. Tom T. Hall tells the Tennessean he expects to hold “a cheerful and joyous celebration of her life and music” at a later date that will be open to friends and fans.

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