In this fun series we ask bluegrass music personalities, some famous, some not so famous, about some of their interests as well as about the music that they love.
Shelby Gold is the fiddle player and singer/song-writer in the family bluegrass band Gold Heart, also known as the Gold Heart Sisters. She says, “Fiddle was the first instrument I wanted to learn and did, so that made the practicing experience a lot more fun.”
The girls began singing in church. Their mother, Kim, taught them how to sing harmony together, the lessons often being a by-product of long highway drives to and from their home out into the country.
In 2005 the three sisters started learning how to play their respective instruments and the band has been touring ever since.
As well as playing the fiddle, playing the mandolin comes naturally to Shelby Gold. But her instrumental talents don’t end there; she plays a little guitar, bass and piano too.
As a budding song-writer her biggest inspiration was her sister Jocey who started writing songs when she was “really young”. Shelby thought that was so cool that she wanted to give it a try. The first full song that she wrote is Forever Tennessee, which was recorded for Gold Hearts’ second album Never Let Go, released in 2008.
The two sisters enjoy co-writing a lot, often linking up as one says something or hums a tune developing something interesting into a full-blown song.
Other songs written by Shelby Gold include I’ve Got a Burden, Master of the Sea, You Make Me Smile and Places I’ve Been, the title song to Gold Heart’s 2015 CD for Mountain Fever Records.
At her very first fiddle contest in Sierra Vista, Arizona, she took fourth place; that was after she had been playing for about three months only. Over the following two years Gold continued to take top places in fiddle contests.
What would you like to drink?
“May I please get an iced latte with the 4 shots on top, with whole milk and whipped cream…of course.”
Do you want anything to eat as well?
“A lemon poppy-seed muffin, please.”
What’s your favorite food?
“Baked chicken with new potatoes, rosemary butter, green beans and spicy sautéed carrots. Mmmm. ”
And what would you have to drink with that?
“Iced tea would be great.”
What’s the nicest meal that you have ever had?
“Dad’s crown rib roast with mom’s sides: mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans with slivered almonds, salad wedges with homemade Italian dressing, and her famous caramel cheesecake for dessert. Wow! Yum! ”
Let’s talk bluegrass….. Where/when did you first hear bluegrass music?
“My parents always kept good music playing, but it was when Dad bought the new Steve Earle and Del McCoury album that I realized, I really, really like this music! I was only about six years old then. We were going down the highway in Arizona and Dad had it cranked up. That CD stayed in the player forever. I remember it being different than any music I had ever heard before. It was awesome and I fell in love with it.”
Which of your own songs do you have a particular liking for?
“Oh my! Probably a song that I wrote a while back. We started performing it on our tour of Germany and Austria last fall. It has a grungy mean sound. It’s entitled Old Blue Creek and tells the story of a peasant who falls for a princess. Let’s just say it’s not a happy ending!”
What about a song written by someone else?
“You can’t go wrong with The Stanley Brothers. I sing Think of What You’ve Done at our performances. I always look forward to that song in our set list.”
Which particular album do you like best and why?
“Of Gold Hearts’ albums, my favorite is Places I’ve Been. It’s another all original album, and I wrote or co-wrote seven of the songs. It was a blast making the album and it showcases our current style.”
What’s your favorite bluegrass project of all time and why?
“The Mountain by Steve Earle and the Del McCoury Band. I love this CD because it takes me back to when I first got interested in bluegrass. Its special to me and it never gets old.”
You play a fiddle…. …What model is it?
“I have a couple fiddles that I love to play. My Frank Daniels is a beautiful curly maple blonde. The other is one that Ron Stewart re-voiced. They both have totally different tones and personalities and I just love them both.”
Of all the instruments that you have owned what’s your favorite Instrument?
“My Frank Daniels fiddle. It pulls really nice tone and cuts the mic great!”
What’s your favorite bluegrass memory?
“I have so many bluegrass memories, but I’ll have to say my favorite is when Shawn Camp sang Magnolia Wind for me backstage at a show we both played in DC.”
How many songs have you written or co-written?
“Oh my, I don’t know if I could tell you how many songs I’ve written. It seems like Jocey and I are always working on a new song though.”
Are you working on another CD?
“Yes, we are writing and arranging songs for our new project we hope to be back in the studio soon!”
How do you keep fit and healthy when you spend so much time on the road?
“I try to make healthy choices when at restaurants. Ordering salads and grilled chicken instead of a burger and fries is a much healthier choice. Carrying instruments and luggage through airports and up multiple flights of stairs at hotels is a great workout too! Ha ha. I also do a few sets of interval exercises to keep fit.”
Are you a sports fan? Who do you follow?
“I am a sports fan. For baseball I root for the Washington Nationals, for football the (Pro)Kansas City Chiefs, (College) South Carolina Gamecocks, and basketball the Arizona Wildcats. I’m also into hockey. Go Caps!!”
What hobbies do you have?
“I enjoy writing. I do that on the road and at home. Web and graphic design interests me too. For outdoorsy activities, I have a lot of fun going kayaking and 4-wheeling.”
Favorite Hobby or Collection?
“I have always worn my favorite hats on and off stage, so I’ve kinda started collecting them too. I have a lot of them. Ha ha.”
What is the last movie film that you watched?
“BEN HUR. It was an awesome movie!”
What is your favorite film and why?
“Rose Hill. It’s a Hallmark Gold Crown. It’s just a great movie about siblings making it in the Wild West.”
Do you get much time to watch TV?
“Not really, I’m usually busy doing something else.”
What’s your favorite shows?
“When Calls the Heart, Fixer Upper and the History Channel.”
What would you be doing if you weren’t involved in bluegrass music?
“You know, I’ve thought about that. We grew up in Arizona in a ranching community with horses. So maybe, if I wasn’t playing bluegrass, I would be doing something that had to do with horses. They are amazing animals and I enjoy riding when I get the chance.”
For much of Shelby Gold’s lifetime her family has experienced a nomadic life-style as her father, who has been a Border Patrol Agent for the past 31 years, with his job taking them to what Gold describes as “many exciting places around the country”.
Born in Brunswick, Georgia, she lives with her family in Hamilton, Virginia.