With her spellbinding voice and time-bending sound, Sierra Ferrell makes music that's as fantastically vagabond as the artist herself. Growing up in West Virginia, the singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist got her start belting out Shania Twain songs in a local bar at the age of seven, and left home in her early 20s to journey across the country with a troupe of wandering musicians. "I met all these homeless kids who were traveling all over the place and playing amazing old songs, and I wanted to be a part of that," says Ferrell, who played everywhere from truck stops to alleyways to freight-train boxcars speeding down the railroad tracks. "The music they were making was so honest, so pure. It seemed important to bring that kind of music back, and it's been with me ever since."
After years of living in her van and busking on the streets of New Orleans and Seattle, Ferrell moved to Nashville and started landing gigs around town. Soon enough, her magnetic live show drew the attention of Rounder Records, who signed Ferrell in 2019. To date, she's enchanted audiences at major festivals like The Avett Brothers at the Beach, AmericanaFest, and Out on The Weekend, and also shared the stage with the likes of Trampled by Turtles, Parker Millsap, Charley Crockett, and The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band.
Produced by Gary Paczosa (Alison Krauss, Dwight Yoakam, Gillian Welch), Ferrell's debut singles for Rounder feature a stellar lineup of musicians, including country royalty like Chris Scruggs and her longtime collaborator Nathan Leath (a fiddle player she first met at the American Legion Post 82's Honky-Tonk Tuesday). Sprung from her self-described "country heart but a jazz mind," those tracks include "Why'd Ya Do It": a beguiling and bittersweet lament partly inspired by Ferrell's fascination with calypso and tango music. ("That song took me a few years to put together -- it's such a different vibe for me, and I'm ridiculously happy with the outcome," Ferrell notes.) And with its galloping rhythm and classic bluegrass storytelling -- as well as a guest appearance from Grammy Award-winner Sarah Jarosz on background vocals -- "Jeremiah" sweetly delivers what Ferrell dubs "a broken song, with a gleam of hope at the end."
Now at work on her full-length debut for Rounder, Ferrell delights in defying all convention in everything she creates. "I want my music to be like my mind is -- all over the place," she says. "I listen to everything from bluegrass to techno to goth metal, and it all inspires me in different ways that I try to incorporate into my songs and make people really feel something."