Meet the talented musical duo who have been enchanting Ocala with their soulful musical stylings and charming love story.
Giselle Felice and Erik Abernathy are having a conversation through music—a conversation that takes place, in part, on stage—about intimate moments, past loves, pain, passion and their own beguiling romance.
This powerhouse duo is composed of two equal measures of potent talent, made greater when combined. Both are gifted songwriters and their collaboration has produced a distinct and soul-soothing tapestry of original musical compositions.
What is distinctly different about them is the abundant and joyful chemistry they have on stage. They seem to genuinely enjoy watching each other work and offer asides about how a song was inspired by emptying the dishwasher together or enjoying their morning cup of coffee.
They describe their sound as having roots in jazz and pop with “Brazilian spirit and folk influences” which shows up in both their originals and covers such as The Beatles’ Till There Was You, Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine and Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide. Their originals also reveal a shared sensitivity and willingness to take the audience into their confidences, offering personal insights, as with Giselle’s Frame of Mind about how she is perceived as a woman. The refrain “I can be beautiful and powerful and kind, and damn you if you don’t have that frame of mind” is a potent challenge to those who would tell her otherwise. Erik admits his main inspiration these days is Giselle, so many of his songs are romantic missives to the object of his affection. There’s a special sense of gratification in watching Giselle give voice to his words as Erik gazes at her—eyes flashing excitedly with an adoring smile—as if he is discovering her for the first time.
Together, they have captivated local audiences and caught the attention of leaders in our local music scene.
“Ocala fans love their covers, but they are also very talented songwriters with some deeply moving original compositions,” declares David Midgett, chairman at NOMA Records. “When we decided to host live audience recording sessions (called NOMA Live), we knew we wanted this talented couple to be our first act, and we wanted to record their original songs live. They exceeded our expectations and enraptured our crowd.”
Executive Director Pamela Calero Wardell of the Reilly Arts Center says the way they “bring the audience in” is what has made them so popular and is why she engaged them for the Reilly Digital Series and made them the headliners for a significant event last year.
“While they are outstanding musicians, they aren’t over the top to make their performance about them. They create an ambiance and make the music about the audience and their experience,” Calero Wardell offers. “This is the reason they were my first choice to perform at the opening for the Marion Theatre in September 2020. They performed original songs and covers, against the backdrop of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and they made people smile, cry and think of beautiful times. That is what makes them so special.”
Erik’s dancing fingers, full of precision and artful complexity, are a perfect complement to Giselle’s sultry vocals and he manages to fill the room with music, especially when he occasionally uses his guitar like a drum. And Giselle can scat with the best. Her melodic solo improvisations are a fun ride on songs like Ray Charles’ Hit the Road Jack.
As people, they are engaging and charismatic. Giselle is bright and breezy and Erik is thoughtfully inquisitive with a shy smile.
“Erik lives for the small moments, and I love that so much,” Giselle explains. “There’s that quote, ‘Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.’ And with Erik, there are so many times each day where he does stop and look and smile. And he encourages me to do the same. I love that he can make the sweetest memories out of the smallest of moments—using a silly voice and accent to ‘present’ me with my morning coffee, pulling me to dance in the kitchen when we’re cooking…and a trillion more. I’m so proud to have him as my partner in life and be his. He is an incredible human.”
“My favorite thing about Giselle is her willingness to try new things. She is always trying to learn from her experiences and is never afraid to invite new experiences into her life,” Erik offers. “This gives me great peace of mind, because I know we will overcome the ambiguities associated with this musical life we have chosen to pursue as a duo on and off the stage. I have no doubt that Giselle will be with me regardless of what life throws at us.”
Giselle says that they have charted their love affair through their compositions.
“One thing I love is seeing how our original music evolves with our relationship. Our relationship can be mapped out with our songs: you have songs that reflect the initial flutters and learning about each other…but recently I’ve seen this turn in our music reflecting the deeper kind of love we have for each other or exploring non-romantic forms of love we have in our life…experiencing new, complex feelings we’re both encountering as young adults. Our songs are truly us—who we are as individuals, as a unit, and who we’re growing to be.”
Learn more at giselleanderik.com