Black Violin’s Wil Baptiste and Kev Marcus know they’re unexpected.
“We’re two black guys playing violin,” says Baptiste. “If you saw me right now walking by, you would not assume I play this instrument.” On their most recent album, Stereotypes, the duo aimed to confront those assumptions.
“We’d hear a song on the radio, pull out a violin, and play on top of it,” Baptiste says of the pair’s early days at Ft. Lauderdale’s historically black Dillard High School. “It was always organic.” During college, Black Violin set out to play Miami clubs as producers and found a challenge.
“You tell a promoter, ‘I’ve got these two black guys with violins who want to come rock your club,’ and they’d laugh you out the door.” Eventually Black Violin developed a sound blending hip-hop and classical, adding in touches of other genres to create music Baptiste compares to “a bowl of gumbo.”
Black Violin has worked with stars ranging from Alicia Keys to Tom Petty and, in 2013, met and performed for then-President Obama. When they play at the Aronoff on October 17, expect them to champion the path that led to their success.
“We’re products of arts in the school system,” says Baptiste “The value of the arts needs to come up a whole lot. That’s what we’re doing.”
Oct. 17, cincinnatiarts.org