Picking Wildflowers in a Bluegrass Field
by Shelby Berry
Raised in bluegrass music with a pinch of classical, the Dietrich sisters have honed their craft since they first held a fiddle like their favorite musicians – Ricky Skaggs, Alison Krauss, and even Johnny Cash.
Ranelle on mandolin, Brie on guitar, and Aspen on fiddle, these joyful, award-winning musicians make up the Arizona Wildflowers from Casa Grande, Arizona. Their infectious energy on-stage and off get your toes tapping with fiddle licks and harmonies.
“We have three-part sister harmonies that we do, and we do that on every song. We just like to have fun with it!” said 11-year-old Ranelle.
Although all three girls began playing music at an incredibly early age, their joint musical adventure began a few years back, when the Arizona Wildflowers looked quite different.
“My oldest daughters Taylor and Madi actually started the band,” said Tiffany Dietrich, the girls’ mom. “They heard about the band contest in Silver Dollar City and wanted to enter. The contest didn’t actually end up working out because of the girls’ fiddle competitions, but the band started with all of the girls that way.”
“One of my earliest memories playing music is my older sister Madi backing me up in a fiddle contest, and that was pretty much my favorite thing,” said Ranelle.
Tiffany goes on to say that Taylor and Madi have each since gone on to leave home to pursue college degrees. So, the band dynamic looks quite different now that it did a brief time ago.
For the Dietrich siblings, music is synonymous with family time. It’s just part of who they are.
“My favorite part of playing bluegrass music is getting to travel with my family,” said 8-year-old Aspen.
Audiences across the country have even noticed the sisterly dynamic that radiates from the stage as the Arizona Wildflowers play.
In the last couple of years, the Dietrich siblings won third place in a band competition in Los Angeles and were even invited to be the opening act for Grammy Award nominee Michael Martin Murphey at the Payson Old Time Fiddlers Contest and Acoustic Celebration.
The girls have appeared in a half-dozen television spots, including most recently auditioning for the world-famous television show America’s Got Talent.
Tiffany was sure to say that the girls were extremely excited about this opportunity, but there wasn’t much they could say about it at this point. This season’s auditions begin premiering at the end of May, so be sure to tune into NBC on May 26 at 7/8 ET to cheer them on.
Even though the young siblings have earned recognition and played on national stages, they often still play benefit concerts for retirees, students, and foster homes. They have even kicked off rodeos by playing the national anthem, including once when they entered the arena on horseback.
“That is probably one of my favorite moments since we started playing together,” said Ranelle. “Our family friends that live up North have a horse ranch, and they came down to visit. So, we got to play the national anthem on horses because of that.”
The Arizona Wildflowers’ success as a musical group has not stopped them from honing their skills over the years.
About five years ago, the Dietrich family began competing in fiddle and other bluegrass competitions across the country, taking home multiple awards for their impeccable musical talent.
Ranelle, who focuses on mandolin and vocals for the band, won the award for Best Female Entertainer in Weiser, Idaho in 2018, and is the five-time and current Arizona Small Fry and Jr State Fiddle Champion.
Lastly, Aspen was the 2019 Runner Up for the National Small Fry Fiddle Competition as well as the Arizona State Runner Up Fiddle Champion.
Even better than all the awards, according to Tiffany, is the relationships the girls have developed among these various festivals and groups – most specifically Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars.
10-year old Brie, who plays guitar for the band, has also won her fair share of awards. She is the 2018 National Small Fry Fiddle Champion as well as the 2018 and 2019 Arizona Small Fry Champion.
“John Colburn has been so awesome over the years with Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars,” said Tiffany. “Everyone in that group has been so gracious and encouraging. John has been such a very positive person, and we appreciate that.”
During all their travel and performances over the last couple of years, the Arizona Wildflowers released their first album in 2019, recorded by a family member with a recording studio in Dallas, Texas.
At once after, they began working on a second album at a local recording studio, released April 2020, focusing on bluegrass music and even western swing. You can even buy a copy for yourself from their Facebook page.
The girls are staying busy honing their skills and looking forward to their next appearance, the 39th Annual Prescott Bluegrass Festival to be held on June 27 and 28, 2020 held in downtown Prescott, Arizona.
“I think I can speak for everyone when I say that our biggest goal and dream in our music right now would be to perform on the Grand Ole Opry,” said Ranelle. “And winning America’s Got Talent would be pretty great too!”
“But really, my favorite part of playing music, especially bluegrass, is giving people joy when we play for them.”
Us too, Ranelle. Us too.