BAM Welcomes the Stringed Duo

by Lapacazo Sandoval (L’s Harlem)

Wil Baptiste (viola) and Kev Marcus (violin)

Wil Baptiste (viola) and Kev Marcus (violin) are a string duo originally from Florida. These dyanmic musicians were so good at their craft that they won the Amateur Night at the Apollo — three times — that’s the power of Black Violin.

On the heels of celebrating the release of their newest album, Stereotypes, this classically trained violin duo is bringing their brand of music in part to, “inspire young people to get fired up about classical music.”

Their sound is best described as a fusion of classical, hip-hop, jazz, blues, and R&B.

Here is what Black Violin: Wil Baptiste (viola) and Kev Marcus (violin) had to share about what drives their music and why they enjoy smashing negative stereotypes.

Lapacazo Sandoval: What drives the music?

Black Violin: Our music is driven by our classical and hip-hop influences and our strong desire to blend the two genres seamlessly. We aim to create a brand of music that bridges the gap between one of the oldest and most revered art-forms (Classical Music) and the newest, sometimes controversial music that is Hip-Hop. The goal is to give fans of both genres a type of music that they can both talk about, Black Violin.

LS: Where is the most Unusual place that you’ve played?

BV: Unusual? We perform 200 shows per year all of the world. Unusual performances include playing on bar tops, opening for John Legend at Levi Stadium, and performing at the 2013 Presidential Inauguration. Usually we perform in performing arts centers around the world.

LS: What’s your most challenging piece of music and why?

B.V.: Our most challenging music are the pieces that push both genres to their limits. Pieces from our new album “Stereotypes” like Shaker, Stereotypes, and Runnin pushed us to be better violinists and allowed us to display our virtuosic chops.

LS: Do you write/compose your own pieces?

B.V.: We write and compose most of our pieces but we also love to collaborate with others to take our songs to a different level. On our album “Stereotypes” we worked with Ray Angry from the Roots and Rob Moose from Bon Iver on piano and string arrangements, respectively. We also worked with Angele Hunte (Empire State of Mind) and Andrea Martin for lyrical inspiration on this project.

AN: What’s the best thing about smashing stereotypes?

B.V.: It’s my favorite thing about playing the violin. I’m a 6'2" big, black man who looks like an American football player but I perform on the violin like no other with my partner Wil Baptiste. Most people have never seen something like this before in person so it’s quite the experience. It’s great to compose and perform a unique brand of music, but it is even more fulfilling to change people’s perceptions of what a violin is capable of, what music can possibly sound like, and also what a black man is capable of.

Tickets are $18 and can be purchased at or by calling the box office at 718–951–4500 (Tue-Sat, 1pm-6pm).

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