Viral Sensation: Cotton Pickin Kids
by Shelby C. Berry
After going viral on social media for multiple renditions of Foggy Mountain Breakdown, not once—but twice, the future of the the Cipollari kids from Cullman, Alabama is shining bright.
Almost four years after forming officially as a band, Cotton Pickin Kids, started their love of bluegrass simply by listening to their aunts and uncles play music.
“I eventually started playing the guitar, and I really had a lot of fun playing that,” said Savio, the oldest of the Cipollari kids. “I saw my aunt playing the mandolin, and I thought it was a cool, fast-paced instrument. I started playing the mandolin after that.”
The band’s wholesome approach to bluegrass and their personal take on fast, foot-tapping music gives them a sound all their own for a young family band.
Shortly after an appearance at Magnolia Bluegrass Festival, they were approached by a representative of ABC 33/40 Morning Show out of Birmingham, Alabama wanting the Cotton Pickin Kids to be featured on their show.
Soon after, they began booking gigs and had people showing interest in their music as a band. So, what was the next step? An album, of course!
Influenced predominantly by iconic bluegrass artists like Ricky Skaggs and Adam Steffey, Savio put pen to paper and began writing a song.
This song, Slemish Mountain, is an instrumental song inspired by a love of Ireland and its beauty.
“I wanted to write a song that had that feeling you get when just staring at nature,” said Savio. “I wanted to connect the song and devote it to Saint Patrick, so I named it Slemish Mountain, the mountain where Saint Patrick was a shepherd’s slave.”
Shortly after, Savio came across a photo of the real Slemish Mountain online by Irish artist Sean Turner. They contacted him for permission to use the photo, and that became the cover of their new album.
“What’s great about the album is that it included cover songs, of course, but it includes their own songs too,” said Elizabeth, mom to the Cipollari kids.
After releasing an album and getting a lot of interest online, things changed a bit when COVID-19 hit the nation last spring, but the Cotton Pickin Kids didn’t let that get them down.
They released their first viral video of Earl Scruggs’ Foggy Mountain Breakdown that hit millions of views within the first week.
When your music reaches that many ears, there’s no doubt that it will also get the attention of some important people as well. National radio host Delilah featured the video clip on her social media pages, and it even got the attention of a country music insider in Nashville, Tennessee connected to the Grand Ole Opry after he heard the Cotton Pickin Kids’ serious talent.
“This man from Nashville is friends with Rhonda Vincent and Mike Schneider. With COVID, they are still working on being able to get us on the Opry. It will take some time, but they have stayed in touch,” said Elizabeth.
Amid all of this, the Cotton Pickin Kids also became a member of Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars, even if they haven’t gotten to meet with many other young musicians for quite a while due to the pandemic.
“We’ve gotten to be good friends with John Colburn from TBS. He’s been great, but we haven’t had a lot of experience in the group yet. We hope to, though!” said Elizabeth.
Just recently, the Cotton Pickin Kids went viral for a second time with another rendition of Foggy Mountain Breakdown, and the band now chuckles at the understanding of everyone’s love for that song.
With the success the band accomplished in just the last few years, the future is incredibly bright once more opportunity is available post-pandemic.
“My main dream for us would be to travel and play all over the world,” said Savio. “I would love to visit and play music in Ireland!”
The Cotton Pickin Kids have plans to play the Magnolia Festival in Gardendale, Alabama in April, the KSMU Youth in Bluegrass Competition in May, and even more gigs in the fall of this year.
Follow the band, their successes, and their incredible viral videos on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.