Steven Sharp Nelson: Mormon Musician
The website Sacred Cello.com says of Steven Sharp Nelson that he is "an award-winning, Billboard-charting, YouTube rock star (in a cellist sort of way). His passion for music is palpable. His music invites people in – people from all different walks of life and tastes in music." Steven is part of the award-winning group The Piano Guys. Fans wonder why the group is called The Piano Guys when he plays the cello. Consequently, he is often called "The Cello Guy." In addition to being a cello virtuoso, he is an award-winning, world-touring composer, arranger, and entertainer.
Early Exposure to Music and Development of Musical Talents
Steven Sharp Nelson was born in Salt Lake City, Utah on 5 July 1977. When he was seven years old, his father decided that each of his children would learn to play an instrument invented before the 1800s. He selected the violin for his instrument, but soon found a passion for the cello when his father brought one home and he learned to play the theme from the movie Jaws. From his mother, a professional opera singer, he learned a passion for music.
The official website for The Piano Guys says of Steven Sharp Nelson, "Steven plays many instruments and combines multiple elements from these instruments, most notably guitar and percussion, into an innovative and revolutionary way of playing the cello. He is broadly considered a pioneer in exploring the versatility of the instrument." He plays either a wood, carbon fiber, steel, or electric cello in most of The Piano Guys music and often uses his cello as a percussion instrument.
Education and Musical Achievements
In 2002, he graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor Degree in Music and later earned a Master Degree in Public Administration. Prior to joining The Piano Guys in 2011, he worked in real-estate development, always intending for music to be his passion, rather than his vocation. On the side, he did studio and stage work with a variety of musicians and contributed to over one hundred local CDs.
He signed to Stone Angel Music, an independent record label founded by Paul Cardall in 1999. In 2006, he released his first solo album, Sacred Cello, earning a Pearl Award for Best Instrumental Classical Album. It reached the top 20 on the Billboard charts top 20 classical recordings. He released two additional solo albums: Tender Mercies in 2008 and Christmas Cello in 2010. He has also played with the China Philharmonic Orchestra. Sacred Cello.com reports that Steven’s videos are "watched by more than half a million viewers daily, and since 2011, many have been among the top 10 music videos in the world, including his 'Cello Wars' and 'Beethoven’s 5 Secrets', both of which debuted at number #1 on the YouTube charts."
Performing with The Piano Guys and Personal Life
The Piano Guys signed with Sony Masterworks in 2012. Many of The Piano Guys videos have a fun nature to them. Steven once said that his "dream is to one day be a Victor Borge. I love the way he is able to use a spoonful of laughter to make people fall in love with classical music." He has also said, "I believe in as much laughter in life as possible, but not at another's expense." And he also believes as Bobby McFerin once said, "listening to only one kind of music is like insisting on living in only one room of your home your entire life."
Steven Sharp Nelson is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served a full-time mission to South Korea. He credits God for his success but says that he does not want to push his beliefs on others or make others feel pressured by his music. He subscribes to Johann Sebastian Bach’s mantra: music is for the Glory of God and for the enlivening of the soul. He also believes that, as Beethoven once said, "Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents." Steven and his wife, Julie, have four children.
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