Sierra Sellers is a Pittsburgh singer/songwriter whose cool, confident music draws from the sounds of neo-soul, hip-hop, and house. Fresh off being named an artist to watch by NPR, she dropped the groovy Ophelia EP in late March. She was kind enough to answer some questions for Bored In Pittsburgh. Check it out below:
First off, how are you holding up during all this Coronavirus craziness?
I am doing well, trying to stay busy and creative, but it is getting difficult.
Who is Sierra Sellers? A mission statement or tagline, if you will.
She is almost everything I have ever wanted to be.
If you want more of an explanation: I have wanted to be a singer since I can remember. I was always afraid. Music has helped me become who I have always been inside, but was afraid to be.
Let’s get the cliche question out of the way: who/what are your influences, musical or otherwise?
Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, D’Angelo, Anderson .Paak, Lauryn Hill.
If you could collaborate with any artist, dead or alive, who would you pick and why?
Anderson .Paak as of right now. I just feel I could learn a lot from him. From his music to his struggle getting to where he is now.
What inspired you to become a musician?
Probably Destiny’s Child. I remember singing their music in preschool.
Your new EP is called “Ophelia.” What is the significance of that name to you?
Not many people know but the name has a double meaning. The first and obvious meaning is that is named after the street in Oakland. This EP is meant to take you through a night I had with my friends on that street. This was an important time for me. It really was the beginning of my growth in music and as a person.
The other meaning or reason why I named it “Ophelia” is because in 2018 I was singing at Picklesburgh. I was feeling really defeated about music. Here I am 4 years in (HA) and I feel like this isn’t going to happen for me. Especially when everyone my age seems to be an overnight sensation. There was this 4 year old by the name of, you guessed it, Ophelia. She was so excited to meet me. Her mom said that she was dancing and that she didn’t want to leave while I was performing.
I talked to Ophelia after my performance and we talked about normal 4 year old stuff, school, her shoes, how she likes to sing, etc. After, I gave her a CD and her mom sent me pictures of us talking and of Ophelia with the biggest cheeser smile holding up my CD. It made me love music again. It made me want to keep going. I might not have thousands of fans right now, or am an overnight sensation, but if I can make one person happy through my music, that is beyond rewarding.
NPR picked you as an Artist To Watch for 2020; how did you find out, and how did it make you feel?
I actually sent some people from WYEP my single from my EP, “Grown,” and they asked for a link for “Shine“, and that I might be getting some good news soon. Then someone tagged me in a tweet about a week later and I emailed Kyle from WYEP freaking out a bit. They had nominated me and I was accepted. It was insanely humbling. I am so grateful for the support I have. I don’t think people realize that when they support you, they are actually making your dreams come true.
What are your thoughts on the Pittsburgh music scene/community? Have you seen it change over the past few years?
I have nothing but positive experiences. I love the scene, I love the people involved. I personally can’t think of major changes. I just focus on the music and how I can get better.
Who are some other Pittsburgh artists that you’d recommend to people who like your music?
There is one artist I am really excited about right now. Aysie. We have one song together right now; I am not sure when that will come out, but she is incredible and if she keeps working hard I feel she could really flourish.
Is there anything else that I forgot to ask or that you’d like people to know about you, your music, or anything in general?
Just that I am working on another project to be released in a few months and when we get out of this to come out and see some performances.