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Sierra Hull: Berklee-Trained Bluegrass Star14:15

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Sierra Hull didn't always want to play the mandolin — she was all about the fiddle at age 7.

One Christmas, her family pooled their money to buy her a violin, but the full-size instrument was physically beyond her reach. Until they could trade it in for a smaller size, Hull's father suggested she tinker with his mandolin and a temporary solution evolved into a long-term love affair.

The Tennessee-born Hull had trouble putting the instrument down, running home after school to practice, often alongside her father who would help her learn new tunes. It didn't take long to attract the attention of the wider bluegrass community. At age 11, she made her debut alongside Alison Krauss and Union Station at the Grand Ole Opry.

Soon after, record executives came calling and by age 15, Hull had recorded her first album with Rounder Records. Around the same time, Hull received her first call from the Berklee College of Music. They were interested, but Hull wasn't so sure. Balancing performing and high school, let alone college, was challenging enough. Berklee kept in touch and offered Hull its prestigious Presidential Scholarship, a first for a bluegrass musician. She accepted and shipped up to Boston to spend two years in Boston's Back Bay.

"I didn't really go to Berklee to study bluegrass," Hull told Radio Boston's Meghna Chakrabarti. "I wanted to go there to try some new things."

New styles and ideas that she's incorporated into her latest album, "Daybreak."

With Berklee at her back, Hull now makes her home in Nashville, a place she's dreamt of living for many years. But she's never in once place for too long — Hull plays Thursday night in Boston and and again in Brunswick, Maine, this weekend.



This segment aired on September 1, 2011.

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