By Karyn Dobbie
January 20, 2015
Wilner “Wil B” Baptiste and Kevin “Kev Marcus” Sylvester make up Black Violin. Think Bach concerto with looped hip-hop style beats. The classically-trained duo challenges traditional classical music by fusing the distinct sound of the violin with hip hop influences.
Capturing the Showtime at the Apollo 2005 Legend title, Black Violin launched their career and worked with some of the biggest names in music including Linkin Park, P. Diddy, Kayne West, Aretha Franklin and many more. They are bridging the gap between classical and popular music with a sound most distinctly found in songs “Virtuoso” and “Brandenberg”.
I had a chance to talk with Wil about their music and the mission they hope to accomplish with it. See Black Violin on Thursday, January 22 at the McGlohon Theater. Show starts at 7:30pm.
CLTure: What kind of reception are you getting from your latest album Classically Trained?
BlackViolin: We have had a huge reception. People really love it.
CLTure: What lead you to start mixing beats with violins?
BV: We didn’t know it would happen. We were part of both worlds, meaning we played classical music in class and also listened to hip hop music. It was so fun to play melodies from Busta Rhymes on my violin. Because of that I started to hear music differently.
CLTure: You’ve collaborated with some of the biggest names in music. Is there any collaboration that stands out to you?
BV: Probably the ones that stand out are Alisha Keys and Linkin Park. They taught us what it was like to be professional. They are both so humble and don’t take themselves too seriously. We learned so much from both of them.
CLTure: I read you guys average 200 shows per year. What’s the toughest part about being on the road for you?
BV: We probably do around 150 shows. We just did 20 shows in 13 days in Winnipeg. The toughest part for us is being away from family. It doesn’t matter what your profession is. There is always going to be a downside to it. The traveling is very hard on us but there are far too many perks that out-weigh the difficulties. We are out there living our dream and nothing can beat performing on stage.
CLTure: Do you and Kevin have any pre-show rituals?
BV: For me, I like to say a quick prayer thanking God. And while I’m in my dressing room I sing and play around with my viola. I don’t want to go out on stage cold.
CLTure: You and Kevin dedicate a lot of time performing for kids. Do you have a mission you hope to accomplish with your music?
BV: Most definitely. We really want kids and adults to think outside the box and get really inspired. For us, we have taken a 400 year old instrument and done something different with it. We want people to try things that have never been done before and continue to challenge themselves.
CLTure: What’s been one of the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome during the last ten years together?
BV: Proving to people that our music works. There are a lot of people that are apprehensive about it. We know it works by how the audience receives the music. Regardless of color, creed, religion or geographic location, people respond to the sound of our music.
CLTure: What are you most looking forward to when the tour ends?
BV: Touring has such a strain on the body. I going straight home and lay in my bed.
Purchase tickets to Black Violin at McGlohon Theatre on Thursday Jan. 22nd.
Listen to Sam Smith “Stay With Me ” Cover by Black Violin.