Sister Sadie is a wildfire: raging hot bluegrass combined with breathtaking instrumental drive and awe-inspiring vocals. Comprised of original members Deanie Richardson (fiddle), and Gena Britt (banjo, harmony vocals) and newcomers Hasee Ciaccio (bass), Jaelee Roberts (guitar, lead vocals), and Mary Meyer (mandolin, harmony vocals), Sister Sadie has combined the varied talents of each of the individual women in the lineup to create something that is far more than the sum of its parts. It is a sound uniquely their own. Yes, it’s undeniably classic, hard-driving bluegrass, but it’s much more than just that. Rooted in forceful and tight vocal harmonies, this isn’t your granddaddy’s Appalachian high lonesome sound. This is something far more powerful than that—it’s the sound of the mountains themselves.
When Sister Sadie first formed, they didn’t plan to stick around for more than a decade. They didn’t even plan to stick around for more than one show. But fate had other plans. In December of 2012, the original lineup of the band took the stage at the Station Inn with the goal of having a good time and playing good music together. “We thought it would be a little fun thing,” says Gena Britt. But it was immediate from the first moment that this band was more than just a flash in the pan. “I'll never forget it. At five o'clock that evening, when we hit the first note, we all looked at each other like, ‘Oh yeah, this is pretty special.’”
The original Station Inn lineup formed the core of the band for much of the past ten years, featuring Dale Ann Bradley, Beth Lawrence, Tina Adair, and of course, Deanie Richardson and Gena Britt. Together, this lineup reached heights that none of them thought imaginable leading into what they had assumed would be a one-time Christmas season pickup gig. In 2019, following the release of their second studio album “Sister Sadie II” on Pinecastle Records, they had their debut on the Opry, won their first IBMA award for Vocal Group of the Year, and received a GRAMMY nomination for Bluegrass Album of the Year. In 2020, Deanie was named the IBMA Fiddle Player of the Year (the second woman to win that prize in the 30 year history of the awards), and the band took home the top prize as the Entertainer of the Year. Sister Sadie also was named Vocal Group of the Year for the second year running.
But without change, there is no growth—and Sister Sadie continues to grow. In 2019, Sister Sadie brought in an up-and-coming bassist who’d been picking up steam in the scene by the name of Hasee Ciaccio. “I remember hearing her before actually seeing her,” said Britt, talking about her first time listening to Hasee’s energetic and hard-driving playing at a festival in Texas while touring with Molly Tuttle. “The energy that she brings to the show is addictive,” says Richardson. “She makes you want to play even more and better.”
Britt and Richardson aren’t the only ones hooked on Hasee’s playing; the audience also loves it. After every show, the band always fields at least a few comments about how connected they feel to the energy and enthusiasm that Ciaccio brings to the stage.
The next gravitational shift came in finding a new lead vocalist in 2020—someone whose voice had the power and confidence to hold court and capture an audience. Fortunately, Jaelee Roberts had all of the above and more. Roberts had been in close proximity to the members of Sister Sadie for her whole life: Richardson played with her dad in New Tradition and Britt had played with her mom in Petticoat Junction. So when it came time to find a new voice for the band, her name immediately came to the fore. Despite her young age, there is nothing immature to be heard when she sings. Her voice is commanding, demanding the world stop and pay attention. It has the charisma and singularity to lead, while also melting like butter into spine-tingling harmonies. She is undeniable.
The final puzzle piece fell into place with the addition of Mary Meyer to the band. When Sister Sadie began their search for a new all-star mandolinist to join the lineup, they also needed to find someone with the vocal talent and style to join the blend that gives Sister Sadie its inescapable magnetic draw. Meyer has it all. Having been born and raised in the Branson, Missouri bluegrass scene, she is a musical force to be reckoned with. Her voice is different than the previous timbre of Sister Sadie—she brings with her something angelic with a side of Texas Swing. One afternoon while the Station Inn was closed, the new lineup of the band gathered where it all began. Playing together that first time sealed the deal: that same spark from 2012 was alive and burning. This was the new Sister Sadie.
The band has been completely reborn, with an energy and excitement that they’ve never had before. Vocals have always been the foundation of Sister Sadie’s sound, and the new vocal blend—combining Gena Britt’s hard-driving North Carolina bluegrass, Mary Meyer’s honeyed folk, and Jaelee’s world-shaking power and range—has spurred the band into exploring new aural territory. The addition of three new wildly talented instrumentalists has broadened the genre palette of their compositions as well, shifting the landscape of the music they make. This band didn’t climb down from their peak during these changes—they moved the entire mountain instead.
This new energy continues to drive the band forward. In 2021, Sister Sadie was featured in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s American Currents exhibit. The same year, the band took home a third consecutive IBMA Vocal Group of the Year award, and new member Jaelee Roberts was awarded the IBMA Momentum Vocalist of the Year award. In 2022, Gena Britt was recognized as the SPBGMA Banjo Player of the Year and Sister Sadie signed with Mountain Home Records to begin work on their third studio album. Now, entering their second decade as a band, the energy that they felt all those years ago burns brighter than ever before.