There aren’t many twenty-three year old musicians that can say they’ve had a career that’s already spanned more than a decade, and there aren’t many at any age that can compare resumes with Sierra Hull.
Hull has been named the 2015 Blue Blaze Award recipient by the Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree and Crafts Festival. She will be presented this award on the same stage that her love of competitive bluegrass music began. Her journey began on the stage of the Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree at the young age of 9 years old. By age 11, Alison Krauss had called with an invitation to the Opry stage; by 12, Rounder Records was expressing interest (she signed a record deal with Rounder at 13, with her first album released at 16.) She’s also played the White House, Carnegie Hall (twice), the Kennedy Center, traveled around the world sharing her music, and released three albums. 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.
“When the Jamboree board and committees were talking about potential recipients for this year’s Blue Blaze Award, we were looking for a candidate whose roots of success grew from their participation at the Smithville Fiddlers Jamboree. Sierra Hull, with all of her great success and accolades, was the uncontested fit for this honor,” said Shan Burklow – Jamboree Marketing Committee, “We are honored that Sierra’s humble beginnings started right here on the Jamboree stage and have enjoyed watching her career explode at such a young age. She is a remarkable talent and extraordinary person. The core mission of the award is to acknowledge a musician that has kept the embers of bluegrass music glowing for future generations to come. We believe that Sierra embodies the heart of this mission.”
“At 9 years old, I stepped on to the stage at the Smithville Fiddler’s Jamboree for the first time to play “Jerusalem Ridge”, said Hull, “It was my first contest, and I had only been playing about a year at the time. I didn’t place in the contest, but felt really inspired by all the other kids and musicians I met that day. I immediately looked forward to going back the next year. My dad certainly reminded me that I’d have to work hard if I wanted to place next time. The next year, I went back and won 1st on guitar, which was really exciting, but only 2nd on mandolin. I’ve always thought of myself as a mandolin player first, so I really wanted to win the mandolin contest at least once. It was such a good thing for me as a young kid to enter a contest and lose! It really gave me a boost to work hard for another year. I went back the next year and won both mandolin and guitar! I was so excited. It was also great local exposure with the contest being broadcasted on WCTE. After winning - later that year, Gibson gave me my first mandolin endorsement - mostly because Danny Roberts had seen me play at the Jamboree. I couldn’t believe it! I am so honored to be chosen for the Blue Blaze Award this year. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Smithville as a place where some of my fondest memories as a young musician were made.”
Boundaries---age, genre or otherwise---don’t hamper an artist like Sierra. She’s already earned considerable respect in the bluegrass world, the IBMA’s voting members having nominated her for no fewer than eight awards. We’re thinking that there’s a good chance that she’ll be the first woman to win the mandolin category. But as a player, singer, and a songwriter, she also has remarkable range. Matt Glaser, head of Berklee’s American Roots Music Program, put it this way, “She has no limitations as a musician.”
Hull has a fan base that includes country icons and legends alike. Country Music Legend Dolly Parton was quoted as saying, “I can’t say enough about Sierra Hull….Sierra is truly a beautiful and talented gift to this world, so special and unique.” Alison Krauss weighed in with her feelings on the young artist, “Sierra is a remarkably talented, beautiful human being. Success could not have come to a more worthy person. I adore her.”
…and we couldn’t agree more. Congratulations to Sierra Hull, the Smithville Fiddlers’ Jamboree Blue Blaze Award recipient for 2015. For more information on her career, accolades, and upcoming tour dates, go to www.sierrahull.com