Bluegrass prodigy Sierra Hull returns to The Greystones in her own right
Over the 11 years since music returned to what was The Highcliffe – now The Greystones – some extraordinarily talented American musicians and singers have performed in Sheffield 11.
When it comes to exporting their brands of Americana, country and folk, there have been memorable nights with the likes of Molly Tuttle, Chris Thile, Sarah Jarosz, Abigail Washburn, Della Mae and Tim O’Brien.
Then there is Nashville veteran Ron Block who played a sell-out show at The Greystones five years ago alongside a young musician and singer called Sierra Hull. She returns in her own right on Tuesday, December 7, her reputation burnished in the meantime as a fine singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, notably underlining her virtuosity on the mandolin.
There is no doubting her credentials. She is a three-time winner (and the first female) winner of the International Bluegrass Music Association's Mandolin Player of the Year and has the type of background that marked her out as someone special from a very early age.
She learned to sing from her mother as a toddler and took up mandolin just a few years later. By eight she was jamming with local bluegrass groups, going on to make her Grand Ole Opry debut at 10, playing Carnegie Hall at 12 and securing a deal with Rounder Records at 13.
Still only 30, Sierra Hull is touring – with Americana songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rachel Baiman in support – on the back of her latest album, 25 Trips, whose title references a particularly momentous year of her life, including her marriage to fellow bluegrass musician Justin Moses and the release of her previous album, Weighted Mind.
Her hero and mentor is Alison Krauss, and the latest release broadens the canvas in polished Krauss-like fashion, incorporating electric instrumentation and percussion.
“One of the things I most enjoyed about making this record was getting to show the wide variety of music I love,” says Sierra. “I don’t really know what category the album falls in, but I also think that matters less and less.
“What really matters to me is trusting myself to be who I am, and just putting my voice and my heart out there in the most sincere way that I can.”