Just Me and Music

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Just Me & Music—Libby Hall

by Shelby Campbell Berry

"I love the new experiences music brings," Libby said. "I love performing when an audience gets into the music. I love the energy and togetherness that it brings. I may be nervous before I go on stage, but when I get up there, it all goes away. It's just me and the music."

A multi-instrumentalist, Libby picked up her first instrument—the mandolin—at eight years old after her father began playing the mandolin himself. Like all young girls, she looked up to her father and thought the instrument sounded cool. The next thing her parents knew, Libby was playing the mandolin by ear, repeating the notes of the song her father was playing.

The same year, Libby performed at a local fair in Albany, Ohio, for the first time, winning an award. From that moment, she began performing and competing at countless regional festivals and bluegrass competitions.

“I’m a pretty quiet person, but I felt comfortable up there. I really loved performing and wanted to see where it took me,” Libby said.

Today, Libby still plays the mandolin, but over the years, she has also taken on the fiddle, piano, guitar, ukulele, tenor saxophone, and bassoon.

While influenced in her music by bluegrass greats like Bill Monroe and Bobby Osborne and iconic musicians of today such as Sierra Hull and Sam Bush, Libby prides herself in creating a sound all her own.

"I definitely have a different style in my music, and I play by ear a lot. I love to improvise when I'm playing," Libby said. "I like jazz music, and I like incorporating jazz into the bluegrass. I play for a different style. Bluegrass is my main genre, but I love playing all genres of music."

Libby Hall

While her overall style in music is a bit different from traditional bluegrass, her bluegrass musical influences ultimately brought her to the young bluegrass musician group Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars a few years ago.

While at Bobby Osborne’s Mandolin Round Up, Libby got the opportunity to meet Larry Smith, President of Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars, and his granddaughter Ashlyn Smith, a member of the group and a seasoned pro in the bluegrass community herself.

“While at the event, the Smiths invited me to join Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars, and I liked the idea of meeting other young musicians,” said Libby. “I’ve definitely met some great people through the group, and every time I see them, they are so inviting and welcoming. It’s a wonderful community to be a part of.”

"Don't be afraid to step out of your box and do something that you wouldn't have done," Libby said. "You never know what will come out of something."

After years of playing in this bluegrass community, Libby completed her debut instrumental album Done Gone in December 2021 in collaboration with Clay Hess, Natalie Tomlinson, Cory Walker, and Tim Crouch.

“For the album, I played the mandolin alongside Clay, Natalie, Cory, and Tim on their instruments, and we recorded ten cover songs of old time and bluegrass music,” Libby said.

Libby is beginning her senior year of high school, looking forward to playing the Ohio Valley Opry and other private events while preparing to minor in music once she gets to college next year.

“Right now, I’m taking my music one day and one performance at a time,” Libby said.

While she dreams of one day joining a band and performing more, as that’s something she hasn’t been able to do up until this point, Libby is enjoying being a kid this year before the world and all of its possibilities open up to her.

As she moves into the future, Libby looks back on the decisions that got her to this point with a humble smile.