When one thinks of hip-hop, violins don’t usually come to mind. Black Violin, however, not only has merged classical music with hip-hop, but has done so successfully.
Florida natives Kevin Sylvester (“Kev Marcus”), who plays the violin, and Wilner Baptiste (“Will B”), who plays the viola, have toured extensively across the nation and overseas, bringing crowds a fresh blend of genres that goes beyond classical and hip-hop. They’ve toured with legendary artists Alicia Keys and Aerosmith, and played at President Barak Obama’s second inauguration. On Tuesday, March 28, the duo will perform at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts.
“We were hip-hop first and just happened to be introduced to classical instruments,” said Sylvester in an article for SouthFlorida.com. “So it was very natural to blend the two together.” The duo has been pushing musical boundaries from album to album, exploring R&B, rock, and even bluegrass.
Their latest album, Stereotypes (released in 2015), is justly named since the album explores the way humans stereotype each other based on choices or race. In an interview with Lindsay Totty at NPR, Sylvester spoke about an exchange in an elevator with a woman who assumed, by judging his outward appearance, that he didn’t play classical music. Black Violin hopes that audiences understand their goal in breaking down these walls with their music, and are open about their own experiences being stereotyped.
The duo’s November performance at Strathmore in Maryland was described as “pure excitement” and “a high-energy evening of musical mashups enjoyable for the entire family” by William Powell in DC Metro Theater Arts. Alex Galbraith from UPROXX says, “…you get to see just how impactful their unique blend of hip-hop and classical music can be.”
Attendees at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts can expect a show packed with enthusiasm and musical experimentation. The duo asks that, even more than enjoying the music, audiences move past stereotypes with them through their music, hoping to break barriers all across the board.
JORDAN MARIE MARTINEZ