Okorie “OkCello” Johnson is an American cellist-composer whose music integrates cello, live-sound-looping and improvisation on original compositions which collide classical with jazz, EDM, reggae and funk. He is a recipient of the Alliance Theatre’s 2018 Reiser Atlanta Artists Lab grant, and a 2018 Creative Loafing Readers’ Choice winner, for Best Local Jazz Act. His sophomore album Resolve was named one of ArtsATL’s top local albums of 2018.
OkCello has balanced musical pursuits – which include performing and recording with major label artists such as De La Soul, India.Arie and Big Boi – with a career as an educator. In 2015, he launched “Epi.phony,” a multi-city, 12-show, concert series that produced the track list for his first album Liminal which established him as a pioneer of electronic and experimental string music in the United States.
“After years of putting my cello down and picking it back up, after years of deciding that the cello wasn’t financially practical, after years of thinking that my other voices were my native ones, I realized that the cello was the oldest, the most central and the most sacred part of me,” says OkCello.
“I resolved never, ever, to deny it again.” Resolve marks his evolution as a communicator and a storyteller who reveals personal truths: of time travel, of the African Diaspora, of a deep love for women and of unspoken prayers.
“Resolve is the moment in my life where the tension of uncertainty gives way to a harmony of ‘me’, for which the cello and its dancing drone are the patient core,” says the Washington, D.C.-born, Atlanta-based musician who began playing cello at age six.