In the mesmerizing world of music, where every note and rhythm tells a tale, Kely Pinheiro stands out as a symphony of dedication, collaboration, and unmatched prowess.
Today’s music industry isn’t just a battlefield of genres and voices; it’s a labyrinthine world of collaborations, artistic explorations, and global narratives. Digitization and the hunger for fresh perspectives have spawned opportunities for multifaceted artists. The industry now champions individuals who not only excel in their craft but also bring people together, much like the cords in a complex musical arrangement.
This backdrop is the perfect stage for Kely Pinheiro, an artist whose credentials range from celebrated cellist to accomplished conductor. She currently wears two distinguished hats in the monumental musical Hadestown during its Broadway US tour. Created by Anaïs Mitchell and Rachel Chavkin, this historic milestone for women in musical creation has won numerous accolades, including 8 Tony Awards and a Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album. As both the cellist and Associate Conductor, Kely plays a pivotal role in this theatrical masterpiece.
Back in 2019, Kely toured with Astrid S, performing in venues as prestigious as the Oslo Opera House. This tour not only achieved sold-out status but also yielded a memorable acoustic video, “Trust Issues (Tour Bus Acoustic).” Her versatility shines further as a session player for “Fantasia,” the theme song for the Brazilian Netflix film “Diários de Intercambio – The Secret Diary of an Exchange Student,” which amassed over 273,000 streams on Spotify.
Her flair for education and mentorship finds expression at the New Directions Cello Festival, where she serves as both a guest artist and teacher. Here, she mingles with a community of over 100 talented cellists and groups, also collaborating with luminaries like Eugene Friesen and Jaques Morelembaum. Adding another feather to her cap, Kely has been the lead artist at the Ossipee Valley Music Festival in Maine, performing with Nebulous Quartet to an estimated audience ranging from 1,000 to 5,000.
In our exclusive interview, Kely’s collaborations stood out as extraordinary landmarks in her journey. From Astrid S to Sondre Lerche and João Carlos Martins, she has shared the stage and studio with a pantheon of musical gods. Her work with Eugene Friesen, particularly for Berklee’s YouTube video “Agua de Beber,” showcases her ability to adapt and innovate. Moreover, her interactions with David Lai, a Grammy and Emmy award-winning producer, affirm her position within elite musical circles and attest to her exceptional networking skills.
Kely Pinheiro is not just another name in the music industry; she’s a crescendo in a symphony of talents – a collaborative genius who has mastered the art of wearing multiple hats, from cellist to conductor, from performer to teacher. Whether it’s a festival in Maine or a Broadway spectacle, Kely’s presence is an embodiment of artistic proficiency, adaptability, and an unparalleled commitment to her craft. In her, we see the future of a truly global, collaborative, and extraordinarily versatile music industry.
Hi, Kely! What have been some key takeaways from your collaborations with Grammy and Emmy award-winning producer David Lai?
My collaboration with Grammy and Emmy award-winning producer David Lai has been a transformative chapter in my musical journey. Our initial rendezvous, over a lively Zoom call amidst the pandemic, remains etched in my memory. Hadestown was in search of a band for its debut tour, and there I was, discussing music with David. From that very moment, his enthusiasm for my work, his earnest encouragement, and his profound insights hinted at the beautiful collaboration that lay ahead.
David’s prodigious approach to music combined with his impeccable professionalism has served as a beacon of motivation for me. He has opened doors, introducing me to some of the industry’s luminaries and fostering connections with brilliant musicians. This has not only broadened my musical vista but has also consistently nudged me toward refining my artistry.
A pivotal moment in our collaboration was a profound listening session. As I played some of my compositions, David’s feedback resonated with clarity and depth, offering me invaluable pointers on songwriting, production, and industry nuances. This session was nothing short of revelatory, reshaping my musical ethos.
In essence, my alliance with David Lai has been a cherished privilege. It has molded my artistic outlook, infused me with renewed confidence, and invigorated my aspirations in the vast expanse of music.
Could you describe your experience working with Astrid S during her European tour? How did this collaboration influence your musical perspective?
Joining Astrid S on her European tour was an odyssey of profound artistic growth for me. One of the most enlightening aspects was the rehearsal process. The meticulousness of Astrid and her ensemble was remarkable. They possessed an innate ability to accentuate our strengths, all while providing incisive feedback that elevated our collective performance. Their relentless pursuit of perfection underscored the essence of artistic excellence.
This collaboration heralded a new chapter in my musical evolution. The most pivotal lesson was understanding the intricate dynamics of harmonizing with a vocalist. Tweaking my cello’s tonality to meld with Astrid’s voice, I discovered a synergy that added a rich layer to our music.
The magnitude of this transformation became palpable during our final concert. As I gazed out at the sea of ecstatic faces, the euphoria of delivering an impeccable performance washed over me. Absent were the familiar tendrils of doubt and anxiety, replaced by a deep sense of accomplishment. This journey not only honed my craft but also imbued me with a renewed vigor and confidence, forever reshaping my musical horizon.
As an artist, how important have these collaborations been in shaping your musical journey, and how have they influenced your approach to your own music?
Collaborating with luminaries like Astrid S and the Grammy-awarded producer David Lai has catalyzed pivotal moments in my musical evolution. These enriching experiences transcend mere musical collaboration, ushering me into a more holistic understanding of my craft.
Witnessing their mastery has augmented my technical prowess, but perhaps more vitally, it has granted me a discerning lens into the industry’s intricate landscape. Their guidance has prompted me to venture beyond conventional avenues, challenging the frontiers of my artistic expression and welcoming audacious creativity.
Their imprint on my journey isn’t merely etched in the rhythms and harmonies we’ve conjured together. Through their mentorship, I’ve grasped the essence of active listening and imbibed invaluable strategies to maneuver through the music world. Their influence has fortified my resolve to assert my place as an artist, ensuring that my creative voice resonates with clarity and respect.
At the core of these experiences lies an invigorated zeal to share my distinct musical persona. I’m now excited to tread intrepid paths in my artistic endeavors, infusing my compositions with unique verve and vision. As I stride forward, the wisdom and inspiration gleaned from these remarkable collaborations serve as my compass, steering me toward a future rich in confidence and authenticity.
Can you share a particular instance when working with one of these renowned artists challenged you and how you grew from that experience?
Working alongside Astrid S and her team presented unique challenges that catalyzed my growth as a musician. A primary challenge was the tight deadlines associated with preparing my parts, pushing me to find quicker and more efficient ways to be performance-ready. Being the sole string orchestral instrument in the ensemble heightened my exposure. Consequently, maintaining flawless intonation was essential to produce a harmonious and captivating sound.
Additionally, the demanding tour schedule, which involved traveling and sleeping on a tour bus, was a novel experience for me. However, I wholeheartedly embraced this adventure, finding it both fun and exhilarating. It served as a lesson in adaptability and showed me how to flourish in diverse environments.
In your collaboration with João Carlos Martins, what elements of his musical style or approach did you find most inspiring?
Collaborating with João Carlos Martins was a transformative experience. His musical style, marked by sensitivity and care, deeply resonated with me. Our inaugural performance was especially touching, as I marveled at his earnest interpretation and passion for each note. Witnessing his total immersion in the performance not only inspired but also spurred me to elevate my own live performances.
During our collaboration, João shared an insightful perspective that lingers with me. He likened his life to a blend of an athlete’s discipline with a poet’s soul. This philosophy resonated with my musical ethos, underscoring the significance of both dedication and emotive expression.
The influence of João extends well beyond our joint ventures. He underscored the importance of being attuned to the music, letting it flow through you as if you’re its conduit. This wisdom has profoundly influenced my music-making, nurturing a more intimate bond with the pieces I play and furthering my artistic evolution. In a nutshell, João’s depth of emotion, discipline, and unwavering commitment to music have forever shaped my musical philosophy.
You’ve worked with a diverse range of artists and producers, from different backgrounds and genres. How do you adapt your musical style to fit these various collaborations?
Finding the right balance and ensuring a collaboration remains true to both artists is paramount. Typically, those who approach me for collaborations already appreciate my musical style. This familiarity breeds a trust, empowering me to blend my voice while respecting their artistic vision.
A testament to this synergy is my collaboration with my friend and Grammy-nominated producer, Rodrigo Martins. Our approach is inherently spontaneous; we commence sessions without predefined parts. As the music unfolds, Rodrigo might vocalize melodies or elucidate textures. This organic process is a testament to our rapport; he understands my musical lexicon, fostering a fluid and lively exchange.
At its core, these collaborations expand my creative horizons. They challenge me to transcend my boundaries and traverse new facets of my style. By intertwining my musical identity with diverse genres, I perpetually evolve, contributing a singular viewpoint that amplifies the shared artistry we craft together.
Could you elaborate on the creative process when you collaborated with Eugene Friesen on Berklee’s successful YouTube video, Agua de Beber?
My collaboration with Eugene Friesen on Berklee’s acclaimed YouTube video, “Agua de Beber,” was an extraordinary blend of creativity, mentorship, and adaptability. The idea was sparked by my venture into a novel technique – singing while playing the cello. This approach was new to both me and many of my cello peers. The magic began during a private lesson when I mustered the courage to present my nascent arrangement.
Eugene’s response was heartening. His genuine excitement and encouragement fueled a newfound confidence within me. Despite my initial apprehensions, he recognized a reservoir of creativity in me and encouraged me to explore further. This became the catalyst for integrating my arrangement with the Berklee World Strings ensemble, which Eugene conducted and of which I was a member. While the original vision was a live performance, the unforeseen pandemic prompted us to reenvision it into a poignant video, uniting the ensemble members across distances.
Working with Eugene was enlightening. Our mutual love for Brazilian music fostered a deep connection, and he approached our collaboration with humility, receptive to my ideas and interpretations. His guidance enriched my musical talent and kindled a belief in my capabilities I hadn’t fully embraced previously. Looking back, “Agua de Beber” exemplifies the beauty of collaboration, resilience, and the profound influence of a mentor who wholeheartedly champions your potential.
Looking ahead, are there any artists or entities you aspire to collaborate with, and why do you find these potential collaborations exciting?
One day, I aspire to collaborate with artists like Esperanza Spalding and Rosa Passos. I deeply admire their unwavering confidence and immense talent. Their compelling compositions and genuine singing style spur me to refine my skills and forge a deeper emotional connection with my music.
As I look to the future, my musical journey is taking intriguing turns. I’m in the midst of co-producing and co-mixing the Nebulous Quartet’s debut album – a venture rife with experimentation and avant-garde elements. This promises to be among the most audacious projects I’ve embarked on with a string ensemble, punctuated by enthralling production, vocals, and synergies.
To me, collaborations are more than just joint endeavors; they’re a gateway to personal and artistic growth. By intertwining with fellow artists, I gain fresh insights and invaluable wisdom. I’m anchored in the belief that every artist has a unique lesson to impart. Through these artistic alliances, I’m dedicated to perpetual growth – musically and personally.