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Sierra Hull Performs Live in Boone on Thursday, Sept. 29; Award-Winning Bluegrass Singer-Songwriter Makes App Theatre Debut

Multi-award-winning bluegrass  singer-songwriter, mandolinist, and guitarist Sierra Hull

BOONE, N.C. – The Mast Store Americana Music Series on the Doc Watson Stage of  the Appalachian Theatre continues on September 29 with multi-award-winning bluegrass  singer-songwriter, mandolinist, and guitarist Sierra Hull performing live at the historic  venue in downtown Boone, NC. Hull won the International Bluegrass Music Association’s  (IBMA) “Mandolin Player of the Year” award three years in a row, and will be performing  with special guest artist Taylor Rae. The concert begins promptly at 7:30 p.m.  

Sierra Hull’s positively stellar career started early. That is, if you consider a Grand Ole  Opry debut at age 10, then called back to the famed stage a year later to perform with her hero and mentor Alison Krauss to be early. She played Carnegie Hall at 12; at 13  signed with Rounder Records and issued her debut album “Secrets,” and garnered the first of many nominations for Mandolin Player of the Year.  

She played the Kennedy Center at 16 and the next year became the first bluegrass  musician to receive a Presidential Scholarship at the Berklee College of Music. As a 20- year-old, Hull played the White House. 

It’s only a two-hour drive to Nashville from her tiny hometown hamlet of Byrdstown, Tennessee. Hull credits her family for paving the first few miles to Music Row. Her mother,  holding her as a toddler, taught her to sing. She ran next door to hear Uncle Junior pick  mandolin and listened intently to the church choir on Sundays. Her Christmas gift — a full -sized fiddle — proved too daunting. While waiting for a smaller replacement, her father  showed her some notes on the mandolin. 

Hull was hooked, soon known as the eight-year-old wowing the locals at bluegrass jams. She found inspiration in Krauss, Ricky Skaggs, and Sam Bush. And, just as importantly, affirmed her own sense of identity in the album covers of Rhonda Vincent, the queen of 

bluegrass. She heard the words of her parents, prepping her for life’s big moments yet to  come, repeatedly instilling the mantra: Hard work, more than anything, will get you  somewhere. 

It certainly did. 

In 2010, Hull captured her first IBMA award for Recorded Event of the Year. She was  shedding the prodigy tag, turning virtuoso, and releasing her second album, “Daybreak,” with seven of her own original compositions. In Byrdstown, she hosted an eponymous  annual blue grass festival.  

“There’s a voice in the back of my head telling me to keep working, to keep moving  forward,” Hull says. “You have to keep progressing and introducing new things.” By 2016,  Hull had reached a more mature place in her life and in her art. She tapped legendary bluegrass musician Bela Fleck to produce her third album, “Weighted Mind.” A departure from her opening pair of records that blended progressive elements with traditional  structure, Hull let go of whatever preconceptions existed — both hers and those of her  audience — and birthed a Grammy-nominated masterpiece. 

“I created from a more vulnerable, honest place by asking myself what kind of music will I make if I’m not at all concerned with genre,” says Hull. “What do I want to say with my  music? What do I want to feel when I stand onstage and sing these songs? I needed to  have a deeper connection.” Enlisting bassist Ethan Jodziewicz (and Fleck on two cuts),  and harnessing vocal contributions from Krauss, Abigail Washburn, and Rhiannon Giddens, Hull trusted her foundation of influences to support this artistic leap.  

Months later she was taking home the Mandolin Player of the Year. After a near-decade  of consecutive noms, Hull broke that last glass ceiling, becoming the first woman to win  the prestigious title. 

Of all the numerous awards and achievements Sierra Hull has earned, that one occupies  a special place on the mantel. Then she took home a pair to join it, winning again in 2017 and 2018. Hull has maintained a rigorous touring schedule, as well. Even when off the  road, she is frequently guesting with friends and legends, joining such icons as the Indigo  Girls, Garth Brooks, and Gillian Welch, and performing at the Country Music Awards with  Skaggs, Brad Paisley, and Marty Stuart. 

She says she’s ready, now, for something new. Currently in the midst of work for the  follow-up to ”Weighted Mind,” her next album will consist of all original songs. Beyond  that, there are tantalizing ideas she won’t divulge for collaborations and, perhaps, an all instrumental record. There is a plan, but not a timetable, which is just fine. 

“I love playing music. It’s all I ever wanted to do. I don’t see it, necessarily, as a bad thing  that I’m slow to make albums. I want my albums to be something I can be proud of.”For tickets and more information on this event, or to join the theatre’s eblast list and  purchase memberships, please visit the ATHC website at www.apptheatre.org.

Courtesy of the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country.