Celtic Connections Star Sierra Hull on
Breaking Out of the Nashville Tradition
SIERRA Hull found herself at a crossroads. Having grown up in public since the age of eleven, when she achieved the country and bluegrass holy grail of appearing on the Grand Old Opry radio programme, the mandolin virtuoso, singer and guitarist wanted to produce an album that showcased a direction that was different to the style that had helped her become established.
She was twenty-four, no longer the whizz kid the bluegrass audience had taken to their hearts, and was writing songs that were outside the bluegrass tradition. So she hired a studio, a top recording engineer and a group of hot session musicians and, deciding to produce the sessions herself, laid down half a dozen of her new songs and ran into a storm of feedback.
“When I played the recording to people a lot of them said, 'Wow, this is cool and so different,'” she says down the line from Nashville. “But then other people said I should do this or do that or whatever. I care what people think but you have to do what you feels right for you, what’s honest, and I got to the stage where I didn’t know what I thought and I had to say, 'Whoa, let’s take a step back from this.'”
The resulting album, Weighted Mind, turned out to be very different indeed from what people might have expected. Although the songs were the same songs, it was also very different from the sessions Hull had self-produced, and the group she’ll be bringing to Celtic Connections, she says, might seem a bit strange on paper, being a trio of mandolin, double bass and saxophone.
Sierra will perform at the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow, Scotland on Jan. 26, 2018.