With a voice as haunting as the wind through the trees, Sierra Ferrell brings an unexpected power and prowess with every word that she lovingly crafts. Though often identified as a country artist, Ferrell brings in influences from a variety of genres, to create the kind of music that feels as wild and free as the woman who wrote them. Like many artists, the sound that she creates is drawn from the experiences and people who have helped shape her into who she is today.
“I draw inspiration from my friends. I’ve met lots of different musicians, and lots of different people who play all different sorts of styles, and I pick and choose a little bit from each of them to create my own.”
As far as her lyrics go, Sierra Ferrell is also a master at invoking a kind of familiar feeling. The words are easy to identify with for anyone who’s loved, lost, or anything in between. She crafts playful and heartbreaking characters who speak to all of the different experiences that make up a life. She is a master of worldbuilding, filling her universe with life by using a quick strum of the guitar, a longing flick of a fiddle’s bow, and words that cut to the core.
“[The inspiration for my lyrics comes] From not just my life, but other people’s life experiences. Sometimes when I write a song, it might not be 100% about my experience, but it might be about someone that I met that day or someone I’ve known for a long time, and I’ve watched them go through their experiences and emotions.”
Though Ferrell had long been a staple in the Nashville music scene for her hauntingly beautiful melodies, she reached a high level of viral popularity with her performances on the Youtube channel, Gems on VHS. This channel creates a platform for unplugged, acoustic performances by musicians from a variety of genres. The account was recently featured in Rolling Stone, with Sierra getting a large feature in the article.
“Working with Gems on VHS has just been phenomenal. And I love Anthony, he’s such a lighthearted, sweet man. I think he’s definitely helped me progress on my career more than anyone, really.”
Ferrell recently released a video for her ballad ‘Why’d Ya Do It’, a tango that dances through the register of both her guitar and her voice. It was was filmed at Carter Vintage Guitars, the landmark Nashville guitar store which holds everything from the first electric guitar to the Strat which lovingly helped to write ‘Sweet Home Alabama.’
As for the experience of recording the video, it was all about the community around it.
“It was great! I got to go in, then they gave me a guitar, They let me pick out whatever guitar I wanted to play, and of course I picked that one. It was a lot of fun! I’ve actually had Thanksgiving dinner with the owners once. We went and had Thanksgiving dinner with them last year, and it was a lot of fun. They’re very good people, and I got to meet their kids, and it was a lot of fun.”
In 2020, Sierra will be releasing her latest album, the first of which she will be debuting under her new label, Rounder Records. Rounder produces records for artists such as Steve Martin, Alison Krauss, Robert Plant, Bèla Fleck, and so many more. The album will have a lot of those hauntingly beautiful lyrics, and a lot of well-placed twang.
“There’s going to be a lot more country taste on it I feel like. I’ve been listening to a lot of country tunes, and it’s gonna be a lot of different harmonies, there’s also gonna be a mix of other things, because “Why’d You Do It” isn’t recorded anywhere else. There’s also a couple of other songs that are not in the charts of country, but it’s gonna actually skate down country at times. I can hide in the music a little bit.”
Before her big album release next year, Farrell is gearing up for an Australian tour shortly following her Shakori Hills performance in October. She will be opening for Pokey LaFarge as they make their way through Adelaide, Melbourne, Newcastle, Sydney and Brisbane. The two are planning to put on one hell of a show, something they’ve actually done before.
“We’ve played one gig before in Nashville at Franklin’s, and we had a good time. I thought it was a blast, then all of a sudden I didn’t even know, someone was like ‘Oh, do you want to go on tour in Australia with Pokey LaFarge’ and I said absolutely, that sounds like a blast… I’m going to get some vinyls made before I go over there. It’s probably going to be something unique for the tour, because I’ve already been over there once with my other two albums.”
Sierra Ferrell will be making her return to Shakori Hills this fall with a whole new setlist, and an incredible show that will tap into your emotions, and make you want to get up and dance.
“I’ll probably have different bandmates in the band, I’m gonna have a lot more new songs. I’m gonna be singing my butt off, and I also will have some good merch with me. I’ll have T-shirts, hats, buttons, I even have a shirt with my face on it which is weird for me, but my manager insisted having a shirt with my face on it, so voila!”
While you wait for her album in 2020 you can stream several of her albums on bandcamp.
Sierra Ferrell will be at Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival Friday, October 4 at 6:30 PM on the Meadow Stage. Single Day Passes are on sale now.