Born in Manhattan, Gina Martinelli grew up on Long Island in a Catholic Italian family. Musically gifted – she plays half a dozen instruments – Martinelli started taking piano lessons at age four.
“The fifth song in the piano book was called ‘Swans on the Lake.’ Something clicked. I was transported and I realized that the piano was a way for me to go anyplace that I wanted to go,” said Martinelli. “My parents gave me a Steinway grand piano when I was 10. Music was the window to my own Wizard of Oz.”
Martinelli married and moved to Jacksonville in 1973 where she raised three children. A year later, she made her Jacksonville piano debut with the Bill Davis Trio in 1974, then went solo playing six nights a week at every imaginable venue – Sawgrass, Amelia Island, Adam’s Mark, The Sheraton at St. Johns, the Hilton, the Sea Turtle, Epping Forest, the Seminole Club, University Club, the Boca Raton Resort, to name a few. Her portfolio contains numerous letters from satisfied managers and visitors spanning more than 30 years.
One of her recommendations state, “Martinelli’s music and talent are of a superior level. She has always been most effective at making people of all types feel welcome and at home.” From the Beatles to Rachmaninoff, Martinelli has pages and pages of tunes at her nimble fingertips.
Many of her more than 60 original compositions were inspired by her piano engagements. From her CD, “Both Sides of the River,” she said the song “Carillon Joy” was born at the Aetna Building.
“I was playing a beautiful grand piano in the marble and glass lobby. People started coming out of their offices; they heard the same bells I heard ringing through the piano. It was a magical day! ‘Maison Blanche’ was written when there was a store with that name. I was playing for their grand opening – people coming down the escalators would smile and say, ‘Have a nice day.’ I called it my Happy Shopper’s song. ‘Stepping Out’ was written in 2006 inspired by a night I spent in Rio de Janeiro. I have to spread joy and my gift – playing the piano. I do not squander my talents,” she said.
Both a musician and artist, Martinelli holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in music education from Adelphi University, a Bachelor of Fine Art in Sculpture and an education certification from the University of North Florida, and a master’s degree in progress in Advanced Curriculum Studies.
She demonstrates the mastery of her muscial craft through her song choices and the ease of her fingers flowing from one note to the next, combining music from all genres ranging from Italian operatic, easy listening, show tunes, jazz, classical, original music and selections from the 40's through the 90's. She can even be coaxed into singing a song or two on most nights.
She joins Santioni's as our resident pianist playing
Tuesday through Saturday from 6-9pm.