Sierra Hull; “I Love This Career So Much”

Sierra Hull, now in here early thirties, has already accomplished more as a musician than most artists dream about. Considered by many to be a master musician as a mandolin player, she was the first female to win IBMA’s mandolin player of the year – and has since won it six times, as well as being nominated twice for a Grammy award.

Sierra said she always knew that being a musician is what she was meant to do. From a young age, she felt called to pursue music, and it has always been her passion. Although there are moments of frustration and doubt, she is certain that this is the path she was meant to take.

“I love this career so much,” she said. “I almost feel like it chose me. I know people say that, but when I hear somebody say that, I know a hundred percent what they mean, because from the time I was eight years old and taking up the mandolin, and getting excited about music, it didn’t take me long to just know, and also feel called. not to be overly spiritual about it, but I do feel like I know without a shadow of a doubt that, this is truly what I’ve always wanted to do and what I’ve always felt called to do. Even if I don’t always know what the next project looks like or what the next step is. I never doubt where I’m at.”

Free To Be
One of the things Sierra loves most about being a musician is the ability to do what she loves every day. She recognizes that not everyone has the opportunity to pursue their passion and feels grateful for the chance to stand on stage and pour her heart into her music. “When you’ve accomplished so many things so early in your career; it’s like, well, what’s next?” she said. “What are the new goals? Having gotten to where I would hope to get, I think that there’s always something new to aspire to, whether it be more like a career benchmark, or a musical exploration, or whatever it might be. And so I feel really fortunate that I’ve at least had the opportunity through so many years of doing it, to learn and grow, but also take it slowly, if that makes sense. I’ve never wanted to just be content as a one-hit wonder, someone who chases the thing that’s popular in the moment. I know that can be a beautiful thing too when that lines up properly for people, but I’m a lifer. I’m in this for the long haul. So it’s always been really important to me to make decisions that aren’t just good decisions in the moment, but are decisions that I can still be proud of 20, 30 years from now.”

More Than The Music
However, Sierra also acknowledges that being a musician is not always glamorous. There is a lot of hard work and dedication that goes into being successful in the music industry. It’s not just about the music itself, but also about the business side of things and the constant travel. She’s very clear that being a musician requires a full commitment and that it’s not always easy, yet she believes that if you truly love what you do, you will find a way to make it work. “I think people see the kind of shiny moments from afar, where it looks cool; you’re standing on a stage and everybody’s clapping and cheering; the moments of what feels like adoration that come with it, but man, there’s this whole other chunk, which is the bigger chunk of it,” she continued, “That’s a lot of hard work and practice, not just the music, but also all the things that it takes to keep a business running, if this is what you choose to do; and all the travel which really can take a toll on you as well, not to mention just the emotional roller coaster of pouring into the thing that you’re passionate about, pouring your life into it. Whereas, some other jobs, people might not get the same kind of highs, but I don’t know that the lows are always as low either.”

She also values the moments of downtime that she gets in between tours and shows. While she admits that even during these breaks, she is often still working on other projects or responsibilities, she cherishes the moments when she can truly turn her brain off and enjoy simple activities like taking a walk, baking, or spending time in her own home. These moments of relaxation and normalcy help her recharge and remind her that life is good.

“I was recently gone for 50 something days, which was maybe the longest ever that I’ve been gone.

And yet some of that kind of turned into a fun trip. We did three and a half weeks with Bela Fleck in Europe, and then, if I flew back to the States, I was going to have to turn right around and fly right back with my band. So Justin and I, my husband, just stayed and squeezed a little Italy trip in there for eight days, which was amazing.”

“But I’ll be honest,” she said, “This week is a perfect example of where I’ve got seven days at home. And the truth is, when you’re gone so much, there’s so much you need to do at home too. I’m sitting in a parking lot right now at a gas station to take this call, while I’m out running errands, and I’ve still got to go ship a ton of merch to my management office in LA so that they can then send it wherever it needs to go for the various tour dates we have. It’s always something, so I feel like for me, even in those times off, sometimes they don’t always feel off. But, when I can truly turn the brain off, which is kind of rare for me to be quite honest, it’s those moments where I go, okay, today’s the perfect weather in Nashville, and getting out, taking a really long walk, just enjoying a podcast or an audio book; maybe even something as simple as; the other night I made some peanut butter chocolate chip cookies – just being in my own kitchen, at my own house for a little while. That’s when I really feel like, oh, life really IS good, you know?”

What’s Next?
It’s been a little while since Sierra’s last album – 25 Trips (2020) and it seems like it’s time for a new one. “I’ve got a bunch of music ready to go,” she said. “We’re waiting to find the right partner for releasing it. It’s important for me this time around. This is one of the first times that I’ve made the music without knowing where it was gonna land, which is an exciting place to be, because I was with Rounder Records my entire career, and this feels like a fresh and exciting chapter; making the music I want to make, and also really being in the driver’s seat of what happens with it.”

“The songs are basically done,” she said. “It’s funny. I never deem anything done until I’m forced to. I’m one of those you know, it’s very hard for me to ever completely feel done and satisfied, so I won’t say they’re completely finished. We’ll still probably have another round of mixes and small tweaks, but yeah, everything’s pretty well recorded.”

Listen to my interview with Sierra here!

By Greg Tutwiler