The world tends to look at accomplishments in the form of accolades and although only in his mid-30s, 2020 Grammy Award-winner Michael Cleveland has plenty to his credit. Cleveland is IBMA’s most awarded Fiddle Player of the Year with 12 wins, has won Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year six times, and fronts their six-time Instrumental Group of the Year. And, he is a 2018 Inductee to the National Fiddler Hall of Fame. Picking up the fiddle at age four, by age nine, Cleveland was invited to sit in with the legendary Bill Monroe at the Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival. Soon after, he brought his virtuosic style to the Grand Ole Opry as a guest of Alison Krauss, and was handpicked for the IBMA Bluegrass Youth Allstars before he was 14. His blistering prowess and technical fluency have since marked him as a sought-after musician, leading to performances with Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Tim O’Brien, J.D. Crowe and the New South, Andy Statman, and The Kruger Brothers in recent years. However, it wasn’t until 2006, when Cleveland formed his own band Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, that he found the right vehicle for his musical vision, and he hasn’t rested since, constantly looking for new ways to push himself and his music forward.
In her first 25 years alone, singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Sierra Hull hit more milestones than many musicians accomplish in a lifetime. After making her Grand Ole Opry debut at the age of 10, the Tennessee-bred virtuoso mandolinist played Carnegie Hall at age 12, then landed a deal with Rounder Records just a year later. Now 28-years-old, Hull delivered her fourth full-length album for Rounder in 2020: an elegantly inventive and endlessly captivating album called 25 Trips. Revealing her profound warmth as a storyteller, the album finds Hull shedding light on the beauty and chaos and sometimes sorrow of growing up and getting older. To that end, the album’s title nods to a particularly momentous year of her life, including her marriage to fellow bluegrass musician Justin Moses and the release of her widely acclaimed album Weighted Mind — a Béla Fleck-produced effort nominated for Best Folk Album at the 2017 Grammy Awards.
Justin Moses is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist celebrated as one of the most versatile musicians in all of acoustic music. A prominent Nashville session musician, he has appeared on stage or in the studio with an endless list of diverse artists such as Alison Krauss, Del McCoury, Garth Brooks, Emmylou Harris, Brad Paisley, Vince Gill, Bruce Hornsby, Béla Fleck, Peter Frampton, Rosanne Cash, Marty Stuart, and Barry Gibb, among many others. In 2018 and 2020 he was named Dobro Player of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association. Moses began his musical journey at the age of six after becoming interested in the mandolin. He soon developed a lasting passion for making music. He started to hone his skills playing in his family’s band as a child. Since then, he’s toured with bands such as Blue Moon Rising, The Dan Tyminski Band, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Blue Highway, and The Gibson Brothers. In his two-year stint with Tyminski, he realized an early dream of playing the Grand Ole Opry for the first time and recorded the 2009 IBMA Album of the Year and Grammy-nominated album, Wheels. He released his full-length album Fall Like Rain on in 2021 with Mountain Fever Records.
Twice named IBMA’s Bass Player of the Year, Mark Schatz has toured and recorded with a stellar array of artists including Béla Fleck, Tony Rice, John Hartford, Tim O’Brien, Nickel Creek, Claire Lynch, and Sarah Jarosz. Schatz is the Musical Director for internationally acclaimed Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble which showcases other talents such as clawhammer banjo and Southern Appalachian clog dancing. This versatile multi-instrumentalist has two of his own solo recordings, Brand New Old Tyme Way (1995) and Steppin’ in the Boiler House (2006) on Rounder Records, which feature his own eclectic blend of original compositions on the banjo, and two bass instructional videos on Homespun. Schatz recently launched his own solo show: Mark Schatz — The Solo Concert, in which he brings all of his skills to bear to tell his story through his own tunes and songs.
Bryan Sutton is the most accomplished and awarded acoustic guitarist of his generation, an innovator who bridges the bluegrass flatpicking traditions of the 20th century with the dynamic roots music scene of the 21st. His rise from buzzed-about young sideman to first-call Nashville session musician to membership in one of history’s greatest bluegrass bands has been grounded in quiet professionalism and ever-expanding musicianship. Sutton is a Grammy Award-winner and a nine-time IBMA Guitar Player of the Year. But these are only the most visible signs of Sutton’s accomplishments. He inherited and internalized a technically demanding instrumental style and has become for young musicians of today the same kind of model and hero that Tony Rice and Clarence White were for him. And supplementing his instrumental work, he’s now a band leader, record producer, mentor, educator, and leader in online music instruction.