Cello & Chill: Love Songs
Nicholas Gold, a first-call cellist in the Nashville music community, is stepping out of the orchestra for his new solo recording, Cello & Chill: Love Songs. The gorgeous instrumental collection includes enduring love songs like “Here, There and Everywhere” and “Unchained Melody” alongside contemporary classics such as “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and “Perfect.”
Some tracks on Cello & Chill: Love Songs are just piano and cello arrangements, while others feature a string quintet or even a 37-person orchestra. By recording live, Gold believes that his colleagues in Nashville Music Scoring captured the emotion in the room, in the melodies -- and in him.
“I want this music to bring calm to people, and I want them to feel the love and support that I felt during the whole process,” he says. “You can hear some sadness, too. I feel like you can hear a lot of my personality and the musical journey that I’ve gone through.”
Gold’s path to Nashville is unconventional by any measurement. He picked up cello as a 9-year-old in Alabama and started working professionally at 15. Upon graduating from high school in 2005, he received a full-ride scholarship to the University of Massachusetts but dropped out in his senior year to deal with the circumstances of being bipolar. He abandoned the cello for nine months to a year, working instead at Starbucks, and a DUI conviction led to two months in jail.
In an effort to put the past behind him, Gold reinvented himself in Nashville as a studio musician, versatile enough to play orchestra sessions for country, gospel, and pop artists, in addition to PlayStation games, music videos, film scores, and TV shows. He appears on Grammy Award-winning recordings by Dan + Shay and CeCe Winans, and has performed with Kelly Clarkson on stage and in videos. That background lends itself effortlessly to Cello & Chill: Love Songs, particularly in Gold’s interpretations of love themes from La La Land, An American Dream, and Twilight.
Gold says he listened closely to the lyrics of the songs chosen for the album, absorbing their colors and feelings. That deep connection finds its way to romantic staples like Bread’s “If,” Bob Dylan’s “To Make You Feel My Love,” and Elvis Presley’s “Love Me Tender,” as well as standards such as “A Time for Us,” “My Funny Valentine,” “La Vie en Rose,” and “Someone to Watch Over Me.”
Gold’s endless credits include multiple appearances at Carnegie Hall as well as performances at esteemed venues such as the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Award-winning studio musician and producer Charlie Judge says, “Nicholas Gold is a phenomenal musician. From a technical standpoint, his tone, pitch and sense of rhythm are superb. But more importantly, his expressive passion infuses the music with emotional depth that goes well beyond his flawless technique, which is why he is not only an amazing cellist, but an incredible musician and a true artist.”
In 2018, Gold was admitted to a mental hospital after an emotional breakdown backstage at the Philadelphia Orchestra. During the recording sessions for this project, his beloved dog passed away, leading to another devastating setback. Yet the music on Cello & Chill: Love Songs shows him emerging from a very difficult period with renewed health, a deeper bond with his partner, and a stronger camaraderie with his peers. He’s also been invited to be a member of the Recording Academy. “It seems like life has come full circle in the last decade,” he observes.
Today, Gold is an advocate for mental health issues, as well as LGBT rights, awareness for HIV prevention medication, and marijuana reform. The pain caused from a broken scapula and humerus bone prompted him to turn to marijuana for relief. He says that cannabis directly affected the album’s soothing nature. With a laugh, he says the album will lend itself well to a night of lovemaking, too.
The concept for Cello & Chill: Love Songs started with Jack Jezzro, a good friend and bass player with Nashville Music Scoring who’d heard Gold play solo multiple times in the studio. Jezzro shares a producer credit on the album with pianist Phillip Keveren, whose arrangements Gold describes as “purely magical.” Greg Howard served as executive director.
Gold also credits Nashville Music Scoring founder Alan Umstead for taking a chance on a struggling musician a decade ago. “If Alan hadn't given me the opportunity to work for him, I probably would not have been heard by anyone,” Gold says.
“All of the people in Nashville Music Scoring are people I work with on a daily basis, but the vibe of these sessions was very different than what you walk into doing a PlayStation game or a film score,” he adds. “Everyone enjoyed the music and there was a very supportive atmosphere. It was a feeling of love.”