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ACL Artist Discovery Series

Get to know the soulful rock sounds of Luella and the Sun before ACL Fest

Luella and the Sun press photo
Nashville-based soul band Luella and the Sun will play ACL Fest on October 11.  Courtesy of Luella and the Sun

Editor's note: Each week leading up to Austin City Limits Music Festival, CultureMap will feature an exclusive artist profile from ACL's Artist Discovery Series. This week, we feature Luella and the Sun, a Nashville band with plenty of soul. 

Formed in 2011, Luella and the Sun has a relatively short history, but what the Nashville-based band lacks in years on the road, it makes up for with soul and unmatched depth.

Luella and the Sun blends gospel and blues with classic rock ‘n’ roll for a full sound that is as soulful as it is raw.

Rooted in the powerful vocals of frontwoman “Luella” (also known as Melissa Mathes), Luella and the Sun blends gospel and blues with classic rock ‘n’ roll for a full sound that is as soulful as it is raw. That sultry sound — along with standout live performances — has quickly propelled the band on to the national scene, winning over critics and music lovers alike.

While Luella and the Sun is rising in prominence, the band's musical footprint is rather sparse, existing only in the form of a 2012 self-released vinyl recording that features two songs. (The band plans to release a full-length album, currently in production, in early 2014.) 

The offering is small, but the songs — “Fly So Free” and “We Got To Meet Death One Day” — capture the broad spectrum of the band’s impressive sound. Bluesy “Fly So Free” relies on strong female vocals and simple rock riffs to create a bare-bones, empowering track that you’ll want to put on repeat. Peel back the layers of “We Got To Meet Death One Day,” and you’ll find similarly haunting vocals encased in a modern rock package. 

With such a limited catalog, the true Luella and the Sun experience lies in discovering the intricacies of the group's live performance. The band plays with abandon, delivering a show that’s fearless — just as rock ‘n’ roll should be — and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.

After a 2013 SXSW showcase, NPR’s Ann Powers called Luella “a ferocious, feminine voice” who “performs with zero fear.” Currently touring at small venues throughout the country, Luella and the Sun will bring an acclaimed show to ACL Fest on October 11. 

ACL Fest asked the touring band to share its favorite songs for trekking down the highway. Delve into the playlist — as varied as Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath and Devo — and get to know Nashville’s newest must-see soulful rockers. 


Luella and the Sun plays ACL Fest on Friday, October 11. To listen to the playlist, visit the ACL website. 

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