June 02, 2014

By the Embassy of the United States
The Kaselehlie Press

The five-piece Sierra Hull bluegrass band from Nashville, Tennessee arrived in Weno, Chuuk on May 15, and were greeted at the airport by Governor Johnson Elimo and Lt. Gov. Marius Akapito. During the band’s fourday stay on the island they performed at four local schools: Chuuk High School, Saramen Chuuk Academy, Akoyikoyi Elementary School, and Xavier High School, as well as a larger free public concert at the airport. The school performances reached about 1,000 students combined, with band members explaining their instruments and the history of bluegrass music.

Wherever the band travelled, they were met with enthusiasm and cheering. Chuuk provided a rock star welcome for all of the band members. As the band travelled from site to site, everyone on the street would wave and cheer as the motorcade passed by. Members of the band developed their own fan clubs, with different groups in the crowd calling out Sierra and the other players’ names as they stepped forward for their instrumental solos

A special performance for 111 community leaders took place at the Truk Stop hotel on May 15. The next evening at the open-air public performance, 1,400 people sat inside the parking lot at Chuuk Airport, including many families with their children. Another group, estimated at over 1,000 people, lined the streets outside the fence.

Sierra Hull, the band leader, began playing the mandolin at the age of eight, recording her first album at the age of 12, and in addition to the classics, plays many of her own original songs. The band has performed in Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, and in the White House for President Obama, and records on the Rounder label.

The Sierra Hull bluegrass band was on a two-stop around-the-world tour sponsored by the State Department and coordinated by American Voices. The first stop on this tour was Chuuk, their only stop in the FSM. The next stop for the group was in the West Bank cities of Hebron and Jericho, after which they headed home.

More pictures of the Sierra Hull events in Chuuk can be found at: http://www.