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My Bluegrass Heart: An Interview with Béla Fleck, Bryan Sutton, & Sierra Hull


Last month, world-renowned banjo icon and fourteen-time Grammy Award-winner, Béla Fleck, released his highly anticipated fourteenth studio album as a solo artist, My Bluegrass Heart. The already critically acclaimed album is the third in a trilogy of recordings from Béla featuring a more traditional bluegrass lineup, and is Béla’s first work structured in this style since his seminal 1999 album, The Bluegrass Sessions: Tales from the Acoustic Planet, Vol. 2.


Much like The Bluegrass Sessions and its 1988 predecessor Drive, Béla’s latest nineteen-track album features an all-star lineup of some of bluegrass’ most revered artists, including ArtistWorks master instructors Bryan Sutton on the acoustic guitar, Sierra Hull on mandolin, and both Tony Trischka and Noam Pikelny joining Béla on banjo. The album also features legendary bluegrass musicians like Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, David Grisman, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile, as well as a handful of younger artists who are quickly making their mark in the genre, such as Billy Strings and Molly Tuttle.


To commemorate the album’s release, ArtistWorks co-founder Patricia Butler gathered Béla, Bryan, and Sierra virtually for an in-depth interview to discuss the record, its writing and recording process, and the subsequent tours that have since followed and will continue through the coming winter months.


They begin, however, by discussing the origins of the album, and the inspiration behind the record and its songs.


“There are some tunes on My Bluegrass Heart that were considered for Drive, my first real bluegrass lineup album,” Béla explains. “But, as the years went by and I’d be working with the Flecktones or someone else, a bluegrass tune would fall out of my fingers and just sort of stick. They’d just keep coming back around. So, this album is really a culmination of all that.”


The group goes on to discuss the unique qualities that define My Bluegrass Heart, and what makes it such a distinctive and modern take on bluegrass in 2021. Bryan and Sierra, in particular, share their perspectives on the writing and recording processes, and on being featured guests within this profound collection of songs.


“Bluegrass in 2021 is much more than three-chord cabin songs,” Bryan explains. “That remains a part of it, but I think that one of the great things about this current era is that bluegrass has become a pretty big tent musically. The cool thing about learning Béla’s songs is that there’s usually a big picture musical or melodic thread that weaves through each tune in a very rich, unique way.”


LEARN MORE: Want to learn from a bluegrass guitar master like Bryan Sutton? Try a free online guitar lesson now!


In addition to being featured musicians on the record, both Bryan and Sierra have gone on to perform My Bluegrass Heart on tour with Béla following its release in early September.


“From the live point of view, there’s so much room to improvise,” Sierra explains. “That’s one of the things that I love about this band. Of course, there are key melodies and arrangements where we all play together in a very structured way, but there’s also loads of room for soloing. Hearing how each song comes together every night is so inspiring to me.”


LEARN MORE: Want to learn how to play bluegrass mandolin from a master musician like Sierra Hull? Try a free mandolin lesson now!


To learn more about My Bluegrass Heart, dive into the full, in-depth interview with Béla, Bryan, and Sierra here:




Have you always wanted to learn how to play the mandolin? Or maybe you’ve wanted to pick up an acoustic guitar or play the banjo? Through our comprehensive mandolin, banjo, and guitar lessons online and unique Video Exchange Learning platform here at ArtistWorks, you can learn from internationally renowned players, like Sierra Hull or Bryan Sutton, and get personal feedback on your playing.


Sierra and Bryan’s courses start with the basics and teach everything from the introductory fundamentals to advanced performance techniques and tunes. So, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, all levels are welcome and all students will grow and improve their skills as musicians.


Try out some free music lessons here and see what makes ArtistWorks courses some of the best online music lessons around!



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