Here’s a very cool video featuring 23-year-old artist Sierra Hull.
She performs on a lovely Weber Octave mandolin and then talks about what makes the Octave special.
Hull released her first album at 16 and already had a laundry list of accomplishments.
By age 11, Alison Krauss had called with an invitation to the Opry stage; by 12, Rounder was expressing interest; first Ron Block and now Barry Bales have served as co-producers, and her studio bands have featured the cream of the contemporary bluegrass crop—Stuart Duncan, Randy Kohrs and Bryan Sutton this time, alongside members of Sierra’s own crack band.
Then there’s the fact that Berklee gave her the school’s most prestigious award, the Presidential Scholarship, a first for a bluegrass musician; her choice to accept it, to delay her dream of hitting the road full-time after high school in favor of expanding her musical worldview, was hardly a light one.
Check out the video:
Weber spent a few minutes asking this talented musician a few questions. Here they are!
Weber: For those don’t know you what’s the number one thing they should know about you – music related or otherwise?
Sierra Hull: Well, it’s hard to say what the number one thing someone should know about me is. Music aside -- if you’re around me very long at all, you’ll learn I love a good laugh and I love spicy food. :)
Weber: You’ve been playing since you were a child, invited to the Opry stage at a young age, nominated numerous times at IBMA and labeled a child prodigy. Do you ever find it difficult to live up to all that?
SH: Most people don’t know this, but the first time I played the Opry I was 10 years old and Mike Snider invited my brother and me to the stage. At that age, most kids don’t think about labels too much. I just loved playing music. Because I started so young and had a lot of great opportunities early on, it can sometimes feel like there’s this pressure to keep climbing to the next 'big’ thing (whatever that is!), but thinking about that too much can get in the way of making music - so I try to not linger in that headspace too long.
Weber: Speaking of IBMA’s, you just got to present an award with Doyle Lawson, how was that? Do you get more nervous getting up to present awards as opposed to getting on stage and playing?
SH: There’s always a little bit of nervous energy, but we got some pretty good rehearsal time in early in the day. I got to play as part of the opening number on the show this year with some of my heroes — Bela Fleck, Bryan Sutton, Missy Raines, Tim O’Brien and Ron Stewart. It is always encouraging to work with a group of people as accomplished as they are, or someone like Doyle. Doyle and I didn’t really end up sticking completely to the script and in some ways that’s easier for me than reading something straight down while presenting an award. I’ve known most of these people for several years now and they’ve been so good to me. That goes a long way when it comes to nerves.
Weber: You’ve shared the stage with too many people to list. Is there one experience that stands out in your mind?
SH: Probably the first time getting to perform with my childhood hero, Alison Krauss. I was 11 years old and so excited I can’t even start to explain. You never quite forget moments like that and how special they are.
Weber: You play a wide variety of instruments. Do you have a favorite?
SH: I’ve always found mandolin to be the instrument I’m most at home with — it was also my first instrument.
Weber: Do you have a favorite Weber? And what do you like about it?
SH: I recently got a Weber Bridger Octave mandolin and I’ve really loved playing it. It’s perfect for featuring mandolin and voice with warmth, and it’s especially great to have on solo shows.
Weber: Not only are you an amazing player you have used your talents to give back. The 12th Annual Sierra Hull Festival benefiting St. Jude’s and Homes for our Troops was just held in Byrdstown, TN. How did this event come about? Why is it so important to you?
SH: My hometown started this festival years ago because there wasn't any kind of music festival in the town. They asked my parents if they could call it the Sierra Hull Festival and we said yes. Even after I moved away, they have invited me back every year and I’m honored to play the event. It has grown in recent years with the addition of a 5K run and a Car Cruise In. I’m so glad and proud to see the money going to benefit St. Jude’s and Homes for our Troops.
Weber: Your last album was released in 2011…any plans for another album?
SH: YES! I’m as ready as anyone for new music. I start recording in December with Bela Fleck producing. I’m very excited!
Weber: What else is on the horizon for Sierra Hull?
SH: Besides making a new album, I’m also touring a good amount here in the U.S. with a couple trips to Europe before the year’s end.
In addition to touring with a full band, I’ve been trying to stretch myself musically to play in different situations - solo, duo, maybe even trio at some point. It’s really fun to explore these different musical collaborations. Each one requires me to play a little differently and I love that.
I’m headed to France for the first time to play as a duo with Justin Moses at the Festival International Mandolines in Lunel. We’re really excited about that.
I’ll also be taking a full band with me to Prague in early December. It will be the first time there for all of us as well.
After that, we’ll just have to see what 2015 will bring along! :)
To learn more about Sierra Hull visit her website.
Since 1997, Weber’s sopranolins, mandolins, mandolas, octaves, mandocellos, arch-top and resonator guitars have earned the reputation of being among the finest custom acoustic instruments being built today. At Weber, we build instruments for all levels of players, from the weekend mandolin warrior to the pro on the road. Learn more at webermandolins.com