2-time Grammy award-winning songwriter, 8-time IBMA award winner, bluegrass and fiddle professor- these are just a few accolades Becky Buller possesses. Buller is currently one of the hottest bluegrass artists and fiddle players out there, and continues to produce beautiful music. In 2016, she became the first artist ever to win in both instrumental and vocal categories at the International Bluegrass Music Awards (IBMA), in addition to the first female to win fiddle player of the year.
Artists including Ricky Skaggs, Rhonda Vincent, Doyle Lawson, Quick Silver, and many more have all recorded one or more of Buller’s songs. She received a Grammy award for the song “Freedom” that she co-wrote, and it was the lead track off of the Infamous Stringduster’s 2018 Grammy award-winning album, Laws of Gravity. She also wrote “The Shaker”, that was featured on the Travelin’ McCoury’s self-titled release that won the Best Bluegrass Album Grammy Award.
Growing up in Minnesota, Buller had a very musical family. At an early age she was part of her parents’ band, Prairie Grass, and shortly thereafter decided to pick up the fiddle, and the rest is history. She attended East Tennessee State University and started playing with Valerie Smith in her young adult years. Upon her departure of Valerie Smith’s band, Buller started her own band with some of the top dogs in bluegrass music. Her current band consists of Dan Boner, Ned Luberecki, Nate Lee, and Daniel Hardin. She is currently touring with her own band, as well as teaching lessons and being a fiddle instructor at various camps. This fiery, red-headed fiddle-playing singer/songwriter is a pillar in the modern day bluegrass community, and is helping to shape the genre as we know it.
We had the pleasure of chatting with Buller, so without further adieu…
Music Mecca: You grew up in Minnesota in a musical family. What made you choose to play the fiddle as opposed to all of the other instruments?
Becky Buller: I wanted to sing in my parents’ band, Prairie Grass. They told me that wasn’t how bluegrass bands worked; almost always everybody in a bluegrass band also plays an instrument. They didn’t have a fiddle, so that’s what I decided to play.
MM: You’ve had a lot of success with songwriting in the last 10 years. Where does your songwriting inspiration come from?
BB: Everything. Things that happen in my life and the folks around me, the movies I see, the books I read…. There is a little bit of me in every song I write. It might be the tiniest detail that wouldn’t make sense if I tried to explain it out loud, but I’m in there.
MM: You toured with Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike for a few years before deciding to branch off and pursue your own career. How did you go about getting yourself “out there” as your own artist?
BB: My label, Dark Shadow Recording, had a lot to do with that. Stephen and Jana are good folks and work hard for their artists. Also, I’ve been part of the greater bluegrass community all my life, so I had that history to build on. I appreciate and do not take for granted the enthusiasm and support I’ve received since starting my own band in 2015.
MM: You have won 8 IBMA awards and were the first female to win fiddle player of the year. What advice do you have for other young female fiddle players who want to follow in your footsteps?
BB: Know your own heart; play the music you find there. Don’t give up on that; it’s your voice. We need to hear your voice. You’re the only one of you out there. When you get weary, look for friends to help hold up your arms.
MM: You’ve had the same band members for awhile now. How did you get started playing with your band/how did y’all meet?
BB: We’ve all performed together in various combinations over the years. I’m so blessed to have so many great friends within the industry. And I’m particularly blessed to get to travel with Ned Luberecki, banjo; Daniel Hardin, bass; Nate Lee, mandolin and fiddle; Jamie Garskof, sound; and Prof. Dan Boner, guitar and fiddle. They are incredible musicians and some of the most entertaining human beings both on stage and off. They make my job as band leader easy.
MM: You’ve played lots of styles of music from Texas swing to old time to bluegrass. You also sing and do a lot of songwriting. What is your favorite thing to do and why?
BB: I love it all for different reasons. Songwriting is my introverted way of escaping from, interpreting and dealing with the world around me. In seasons where things aren’t calm enough for me to write, I feel lost. Though I’ve dabbled in other genres and I’m even trained in classical piano and violin, my heart is in bluegrass music and I approach everything I play through the bluegrass lens.
MM: You’ve had a lot of other bands cut your songs. When you go to write a song, do you have a particular band in mind that you are thinking about as you write the song?
BB: Sometimes I do. And sometimes I’ll finish up the song before deciding whether or not I want to pitch it to someone. I save some ideas to write by myself, others for co-writers.
MM: What is your biggest goal as a bluegrass artist/where do you see yourself in 10 years?
BB: To stay in business! Our industry is changing so fast; I hope folks will still want to hear the music we like to make even 5 years from now.
MM: You’ve produced several albums in your career. What album means the most to you and why?
BB: Each album captures precious moments in time. It’s hard to pick just one. So many dear friends helped me make my first album, Rest My Weary Feet, and so many artists have covered those songs over the years. Many of the songs off Little Bird have been covered as well. Hopefully, ‘Tween Earth And Sky and Crêpe Paper Heart show that I’ve matured as an artist, songwriter, and instrumentalist. Of all the songs of my current album, Crêpe Paper Heart, the one that I find myself coming back to again and again is “Bitter Springs To Big Trees”. The message just really resonates with me right now…and I’m thrilled I got to sing with Frank Solivan! https://youtu.be/oXd1gbGcHmE
MM: What does the rest of 2019 look like for you?
BB: We’re just hitting it and getting it! My band is staying pretty busy through December, both with touring and recording. Some things are simmering for the First Ladies Of Bluegrass (Alison Brown, banjo; Sierra Hull, mandolin; Missy Raines, bass; Molly Tuttle, guitar; and me, fiddle.)
For more info on Becky and her music, be sure to check out her website HERE!