Cassie Sibley, also known as the Mississippi Banjo Girl, is making waves in the Bluegrass music world.
Cassie Sibley, also known as the Mississippi Banjo Girl, is making waves in the Bluegrass music world.
Cassie Sibley is no ordinary 18-year-old. Unlike most others her age, Cassie spends most of her time traveling all around the country to play the banjo. 

When Cassie was about 12 years old, she heard Larry Wallace play the song “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” and decided right then that she wanted to learn to play the banjo. Her dad, Alan, told her that before she could learn to play the banjo, she had to learn to play the guitar. So he began teaching her. 

By the time she was 13, Cassie moved on to playing the banjo. Now, only about five years later, she’s on the road playing Bluegrass with her dad and his band, Alan Sibley & The Magnolia Ramblers. You might recognize them as the hosts of The Bluegrass Trail on RFD-TV. 

They usually play over 100 dates each year, often traveling to multiple states in the same weekend. When they’re not playing, it’s likely that they’re practicing. 

Cassie, also known as the Mississippi Banjo Girl, is already making waves in the Bluegrass world. This year, Hawthorn Musical Instruments in Kansas City, Mo., was so impressed with her talent and promise as a young artist that they chose to welcome her as an endorsing artist for Hawthorn. As a result of this, on Jan.  31 at the 46th Annual Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (SPBGMA) Festival, Hawthorn presented Cassie with a custom-built walnut bowtie banjo that she designed herself. 

Her beautiful brand-new banjo has gold-plated Waverly tuners and gold strings. It also has a magnolia flower and her name inlaid in pearl on the peghead.

A few of her next endeavors include learning how to play mandolin, fiddle, and more guitar. She is striving to make a career for herself in the music industry, and it seems like she's doing a fantastic job. Even though she is still young, she is already well on her way to achieving her dreams. 

Cassie would like to thank her dad as well as her grandparents, Charles and Tammy Bozeman, for helping her get to where she is today. 

Since they are on the road so often, the majority of their meals come from restaurants. Constantly traveling to and from shows leaves little time to do much cooking, but when they are home they make the most of it. 

Cassie says her favorite savory food is probably macaroni and cheese, and she also loves when her mom, Melissa, makes ground beef taco casserole. Sweets are her real favorite, though. She says she especially likes turtle brownies and cookie cake.

Ground Beef Taco Casserole

2 tbsp olive oil, divided

1 lb lean ground beef

1 medium white or yellow onion, diced

1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp chili powder

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

½ tsp kosher salt

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

15 oz tomato salsa

1 ½ cups shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese, divided

1 cup chopped romaine lettuce

1 medium tomato, diced

Sour cream for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9x13 baking dish with oil; set aside. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook until browned and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain grease from the meat and transfer meat to a plate. Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining oil to the skillet. Add onion, pepper, and garlic, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Return the beef to the pan and stir in the beans. Add tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper, and stir to combine. Cook for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in salsa and ¾ cup of cheese. Transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake about 20 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Top with lettuce and tomato, and serve with sour cream.

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

8 oz elbow macaroni

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp all-purpose flour

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp garlic salt

1 cup whole milk

¼ cup sour cream or Greek yogurt

2 cups shredded cheddar

Add ¼ tsp salt to a pot of water and cook noodles according to the directions on the package. Drain noodles and set aside. Mix flour, remaining salt, and garlic salt in a small bowl. Set aside. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add flour mixture and whisk to combine. Cook for about one minute until mixture is slightly brown. Add milk and whisk until mixture is smooth. Add sour cream and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cook on medium-high heat until mixture is thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Do not let it boil. Once mixture is thick enough that it sticks to the back of the spatula, reduce heat to low and add cheese. Whisk until cheese is melted and mixture is smooth. Salt/season to taste. Add cooked pasta to cheese sauce and stir. Let cool 3-5 minutes before serving.

Salted Caramel Turtle Brownies

¾ cup unsalted butter

4 oz semi-sweet chocolate bar, coarsely chopped

2 cups sugar

3 large eggs, room temperature

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup salted caramel

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x13 inch pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on the sides. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine butter and 2 oz of chopped chocolate. Melt in 30 second increments, whisking after each, until completely smooth. Whisk in the sugar until completely combined, then whisk in the eggs and vanilla. The batter will be light brown. Add the cocoa powder, flour, salt, remaining chopped chocolate, pecans, and chocolate chips. Fold it all together with a rubber spatula. Batter will be very thick. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes, then test the brownies with a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out with only a few moist crumbs, the brownies are done. Remove from the oven and pour salted caramel on top. Place pan on a wire rack to cool completely before cutting into squares.