Telluride Bluegrass #50: Bella White, 6/15!

Telluride Bluegrass #50: Bella White, 6/15!

The 50th Annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival takes place June 15 – June 18. The event is sold out. There is no waitlist. If you are looking for tickets, use the Festivarian Forum to connect with other festival-goers. But tickets are still available for Nightgrass. (Click here.)

Learn more about other Planet Bluegrass festivals at

Please scroll down to check out our podcast with Bella White, who plays the Main Stage at Telluride Bluegrass on Thursday, 6/15, noon – 1 p.m.

Go here for more on Telluride Bluegrass. (Podcasts with Bluegrass legends back to 2009.)

Bella White, courtesy Planet Bluebgrass.

On her debut album, Just Like Leaving, Bella White balances old-soul musicality with a lyrical perspective that is entirely of and in the moment, showcasing an intense self-awareness as the singer-songwriter documents her coming-of-age in real-time.

Rolling Stone praises Bella’s song-writing: “sublime Appalachian heartbreak.”

Bella was raised in Calgary, Alberta, but her Virginia-born father grew up playing bluegrass and immersed his daughter in the genre — even forming a band with the father of her best friend from daycare when the kids were toddlers. Bella honed guitar and banjo skills while attending bluegrass festivals, camps and jams, making her solo stage debut at the tender age of 12. By then, she’d already learned a little something about heartache from her parent’s divorce, dumping her pain into a song “Broke (When I Realized)” on Just Like Leaving, a gut punch.

After independently releasing Just Like Leaving (in 2020 just as she turned 20), the bluegrass-steeped, country-folk artist got signed by Rounder Records, home of legendary acts like Gregg Allman, Alison Krauss, Rhonda Vincent, and Robert Plant, The Stanley Borthers, Steve Martin & Edie Brickell, and Vince Gill and, recently, the likes of breakthrough virtuoso Billy Strings; the four-piece folk-pop outfit Mipso; and the acclaimed folk vocalist, Amythyst Kiah. Not bad company.

Bella, courtesy Planet Bluegrass.

Around that time, Bella was also being touted as among the best new acts at Americanafest 2022; performed at Willie Nelson’s 2023 Luck Reunion; and, made her Grand Ole Opry debut (“a forever dream for a little girl who loves country music”) — just days after the release of her second album, Among Other Things, which encompasses elements of country, folk, indie and classic rock.

The rapt attention Bella is getting can be chalked up to the fact the singer-songwriter repeatedly gets straight to the heart of matter – literally – unafraid to expose her demons and pouring unrelenting emotion into her work. Bella’s undressed candor seems to resonate with her growing fan base. It is fair to say the alchemy of passion and regret land dead center in the artist’s moving poetry.

“Music is the biggest part of who I am, just like my physical body,” Bella once told American Songwriter.“Growing up, it was a constant. And since I was really little, I’ve been just a bag of emotions. I’m super sensitive all the time. And it’s not necessarily being sad all the time; I feel like I experience emotions intensely. I think that having that exposure to music was a gateway to feel things I couldn’t feel in other ways.”

One of Bella’s major influences is Molly Tuttle, a Telluride Bluegrass regular, who she ran into at these songwriting camps. The virtuosic guitarist and songwriter, acclaimed for her neo-traditional, boundary-pushing playing, peeled back more layers for Bella as she translated the shape-shifting sonic contributions from the likes of Taylor Swift and other contemporaries on ancient instruments.

(And yes, both ladies enjoy Swift.)

Today Bella’s sound can be summed up as a fusion of her earliest influences (like her dad) and more recent sonic influences (like Molly and the Rounder stable), reflected in Among Other Things.

“Every discussion about the music of Bella White invariably begins and ends with her highly affected, and highly affecting voice. All great music finds that balance between the familiar and the unexpected, and Bella’s unique phrasing brought to a yodel-like projection makes for a novel listening experience laden with emotion, even if it might be a little too robust for everyone’s appetite. It’s where her Appalachia roots are expressed in their most pronounced form, while also being her most original contribution to the art form…She’s the roots music fix you’re looking for,” wrote Saving Country Music.

“…White herself, who really has one of those piercing voices that cuts to the front of the mix and demands attention without trying hard to do so. And that’s also reflected in the generally anxious feeling of this project, (Among Other Things), which mostly captures that feeling of striking out on one’s own for the very first time and growing up and learning lessons in a way that only come from experience and, yes: failure..,” wrote The Musical Divide.

“Among Other Things, the latest collection of songs from Calgary-reared songwriter Bella White, is all about instinct. In addition to diverting from bluegrass, the genre she established herself within on her 2020 debut Just Like Leaving, these introspective country-folk ballads take an honest look at the sadness of everyday life through the lens of an individual with a positive outlook on life…,” wrote Flood Magazine.

“When I’m writing songs, I’m trying to create an emotional soundscape; having that room for the words to breathe and not be overpowered by crazy over the top instrumentals,” Bella has stated more than once.

Find out more on Bella’s podcast:

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.