Rebecca Lovell was the only female on the stage at Merlefest Mandomania this year. She was the first woman to win the MerleFest mandolin contest a few years back, and perhaps the youngest winner ever too, though I’m not sure of that. (She’s only eighteen now). She also signed my traveling mandolin.
Back when I first started playing music it was in the days of rotary telephones and slide rules, and most everyone who played bluegrass music was old, male, and wore cowboy hats. Times have changed, and young people like Rebecca have proven you don’t have to be old and ugly to be a true artist. In the generation after me it was Alison Krauss and Alison Brown, followed later by Kristin Scott Benson. Now it is Rebecca and mandolinist Sierra Hull, and singers like my friend Brooke Aldridge. As Sierra has said before, “Bluegrass is no longer a boy’s club,” and we are all richer for it.
Like these other ladies, Rebecca is not just a pretty girl; the kid can play, and I mean really play. She can pick circles around long time amateurs like old Doc here. She’s fast and smooth and plays with great tone; a remarkable artist for someone who has only been at it six short years.
In spite of all her virtuosity, she remains a nice person too. Almost every time I’ve run into her backstage she’s got her mandolin out giving pointers to someone half her age. She plays, sings, and writes with imagination fueled by curiosity, enthusiasm, and a love of books. The kid must have been raised right, ’cause she is always respectful of her elders, too. I am proud to count her as a fellow mandolinist.
Rebecca played with the Lowell sisters for several years, but her older sister got married and “retired.” (I’m sure she’ll still play some music along the way) Rebecca’s new band is called Larkin Poe. Here’s her website: www.lovellsistersband.com.
As long as young people like Rebecca are in traditional music we are in good shape for many years to come. Y’all go catch one of their shows. They won’t disappoint.
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