That One Guitar - Nicolette Emanuelle

Name: Nicolette Emanuelle

City: Atlanta, GA

Instrument: Cello

I started playing Cello when I was 9, and when my parents got me a piano when I was 13 I fell in love. My piano was my love affair, it’s all I wanted to play - I never took lessons on it like I did the cello, but it spoke to me and we would talk for hours and hours. It was my voice for a long time and I always considered my cello to be more like my iron lung. I got work because of the cello, I was invited to play in bands, record, and tour because of my cello. I resented the hell out of my cello and would joking call it my old “ball and chain.” A few years ago my voice changed and I found that my piano and I didn’t talk like we used to. I had gone through a divorce, moved to the other side of the country and has to start all over again with nothing but my clothes and my instruments. I had to rebuild myself and found that in doing so I turned to my cello which has always been there for me. I had to work to learn to love and appreciate my cello, I started really listening and really trying to build a sound unique to me, my voice. And now I am in love, but not a fiery love that will fade or burn out, a long lasting love that took work and discipline, one I know I can count on. My piano and I are still great friends and lovers, but the feeling is very bittersweet. My cello is my husband and I now know with great confidence that we will be together until death.

A lot of people ask me why I play the cello, I think they expect some sentimental reason, or want to hear that ever since I was a baby I loved the instrument. The fact of the matter is when I was little I was an overachiever. I always entered the science fair, always joined the book club, or whatever else the teachers offered me that I though I could impress them with. So when I was 9 they said, “You can sign up for orchestra this year, but if you want to be in band you’ll have to wait until next year.” Well I had to join orchestra then, I wasn’t going to wait a year! Then it was, “You can pick either the violin, viola or cello, if you want to play bass you’ll have to wait until next year.” Well, I had to have the biggest instrument, because that meant it was the most impressive, so I picked the cello. The teacher insisted that my hands were too small for cello and that my parents wouldn’t get me one- so I has to prove her wrong on both counts. We didn’t have much growing up, but my mom was always very supportive when I gravitated toward something so she went down to the music store and rented me a cello. Later we bought one off an ad from the paper (the one I play today), it had belonged to the woman’s daughter who used to play, but didn’t any more. It was in an attic for years so it melted the varnish and gave it a unique texture. Later the end-pin got bent when I threw it at someone, missed them and hit the carpet. It’s been through a lot, but it’s always been there for me.

Band: Nicolette Emanuelle

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