Story Behind the Song: Sierra Hull, ‘Queen of Hearts / Royal Tea’
Sierra Hull's "Queen of Hearts / Royal Tea," off of her third studio album,
Weighted Mind, is a traditional song with a twist. In fact, the "Royal Tea" section of the track is an instrumental piece she'd written years earlier, but she never found the right way to complete it until stumbling upon an old traditional tune. Read on to learn the story behind the song, as told by the artist herself.
The "Royal Tea" part, I had written that part of the song. It's the instrumental section you hear in the middle of "Queen of Hearts," but I had had that as a stand-alone instrumental piece.
It didn't feel complete to me, so it had been around for a few years, and I hadn't really done anything with it yet. And then one day I was listening to a Joan Baez album, and I came across her version of "Queen of Hearts," which I had never heard before. I didn't know if it was her song or a ballad until I went looking it up.
She did it completely as a ballad, you know, which was much different than the way I ended up recording it. But something about the tonality of that song reminded me of my tune. So I just decided to put them together and then changed it rhythmically a little bit. And then I played it for [album producer, New Grass Revival pioneer and banjoist] Béla [Fleck], and was like, "Here's this thing I've been kinda working on. It's my tune slash this traditional thing." And he was like, "Yeah, let's record that."
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