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Brazilian cellist and singer Dom La Nena's debut album is titled Ela. (Courtesy of the artist)

With A Passion For Her Cello, Dom La Nena Debuts Her Vocals

by NPR Staff
Feb 22, 2013 (Weekend Edition Sunday)

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When she was just 13, Dom La Nena left her home in Brazil for Argentina to study the cello. La Nena, whose real name is Dominique Pinto, has devoted her life to mastering that one instrument.

In fact, part of the artist's name, la nena, which means girl in South American Spanish dialects, reflects the fact that she moved to Argentina at a young age.

"My family and my friends and everyone called me La Nena because I was always the little one, because I went there very young to study cello," Pinto tells NPR. "I was always with people older than me."

La Nena began studying music at the age of 4, first on the piano. Just a couple of years later, she knew she wanted to play the cello. She says that by the age of 10, when she was living with her family in Paris, her desire to play the cello was cemented, yet a year later her family returned to Brazil. There, she says, she did not find a school to study the cello, so she decided to move to Argentina.

"I [made] a very big sacrifice because I went to Argentina ... without my family," Pinto says. "So, it's a very, very intense relationship with my cello because I have sacrificed many things for him but I don't have regrets."

On her recently released debut album Ela, her cello shares the spotlight with her own voice, as well as piano and guitars.

The end result is a sound that is both gentle and haunting. Listen to a selection of her music and La Nena's story in her own words by clicking the audio link at the top of this page.

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