Today we’d like to introduce you to Parker Ousley.
Parker, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I am a multi-style cellist and a singer. I perform as a solo act and in Dalia & The Big Violin, a duo with singer Dalia Marina. These days I mostly play jazz, folk, and rock, but my primary goal as a cellist is to be as versatile as possible. In addition to performing and recording, I run workshops on the 21st-century cello and teach privately. Both my parents are classical musicians and growing up in a small town in the Midwest meant there wasn’t much else to do other than play music.
I started playing cello when I was five. I took it seriously and was lucky enough to be able to study privately and take part in lots of programs. By the time I got to high school, I was a high caliber player, but my interest in classical music was lacking. I watched friends who played guitar, bass, and trumpet play in the jazz band or little rock bands and I couldn’t figure out why I was supposed to just play these old sonatas and concertos. Gradually I managed to sneak my way into jam sessions and started to figure out how to play bass lines and trumpet lines. I knew I was onto something when I began to develop a unique sound characterized by intricate pizzicato and strumming patterns. Before long I was singing and playing simultaneously and working to identify new roles for the cello in contemporary music.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I am a musician; a singing cellist. I’ve never been a big fan of the cliché “music brings people together”. The whole reason music is powerful and important to me is because each person’s interpretation of it is informed by their unique narrative and experiences. When I perform- even standards and covers, I have to inject my own story into each song and, in doing so, create space for my fellow performers and the audience to do the same.
Technically speaking, I’m a pretty weird cellist. When most people think of the cello they think of beautiful romantic melodies: The Swan, Bach, Brahms, etc. Of course, these melodies are a part of my experience as a cellist and inform how I play. But I concern myself with harmony and rhythm a lot more than most cellists. Plucking and strumming chords like fingerstyle guitarist are right in my wheelhouse. In fact, when I was about to graduate from college and was preparing for my senior recital I was scolded a bit by my department for not using my bow enough – a problem unheard of for a cellist.
Do current events, local or global, affect your work and what you are focused on?
With technology changing how we interact with each other it certainly feels like the role of artists has changed, but really, it’s the same job it’s always been. Dmitri Shostakovich, Nina Simone, Pete Seeger, and Childish Gambino have all done the same thing: social advocacy through sharing narratives and evoking emotional connections.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
You can watch videos on my YouTube channel, Parker Ousley, or my band’s channel, Dalia & The Big Violin. Follow DBV on Facebook (Dalia & The Big Violin), Insta (@daliaandthebigviolin) and SoundCloud (soundcloud.com/daliaandthebigviolin). Learn more about me or contact me at parkerousley.com.
- Website: parkerousley.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @parksleyy
laughing trio (Gerson Eguiguren)
b/w ensemble (Mike Block)
solo stool (Peter Leng Xiong)