Okorie “OkCello” Johnson
When Okorie “OkCello” Johnson plays his cello, it reaches into your heart and holds it. His music is both intentional and extemporaneous.
Johnson says his eclectic musical style — with nods to jazz, EDM, reggae and funk — is a form of storytelling. His compositions explore African Diasporic melodies and narratives, and the ways they intersect with common assumptions about the cello as a classical, European instrument.
His music, which includes four studio albums, has received numerous accolades. InStyle and Atlanta magazines included him in their features on Atlanta’s rising creatives. He has performed at SXSW and at the Atlanta Jazz Festival, as well as with India.Arie, De La Soul and Outkast’s Big Boi, among others.
In the following interview, Johnson speaks with NEXT Executive Director Faith Carmichael about how his music has evolved over the past few years, why pursuing social change isn’t enough and how he hopes instead to help create a completely new future. Hear one of his musical stories for yourself: At the end of the conversation is a link to Johnson’s performance of “Right Now,” the song he wrote for the NEXT Movement. See his work | Buy his work