This post is sponsored by The NAMM Foundation.
Black Violin will make you rethink everything you know about classical and hip-hop music. Violist Wil B and violinist Kev Marcus combine the two genres plus their DJ to create music they call “classical boom.” They’ve shared a stage with Kanye West, Aerosmith and Tom Petty. And at The 2019 NAMM Show, you can see them perform at The NAMM Foundation Celebration for Music.
Register now for the The 2019 NAMM Show to experience Black Violin and take part in the ultimate music networking event!
Keep reading for 10 reasons music students love Black Violin.
1. They advocate for musical education
Black Violin value music education because they started out in the classroom and experienced the incredible impact first-hand. Wil B and Kev Marcus met in an orchestra class at Dillard High School in South Florida, and then reconnected after attending different colleges. The duo wholeheartedly believes in the importance of the arts in education, and stronger funding for music and arts programs. They’ve partnered with The NAMM Foundation to increase awareness and support for music education and have performed for over 100,000 students in North America and Europe over the past year.
2. They break stereotypes
Kev and Wil actively not only break the stereotypes of what you imagine a violinist would look like, but they also smash the idea of what string music should sound like. Some may assume that violinists can only play classical music. Black Violin surprises audiences by playing unapologetically unconventional music. Their representation and success inspire other black violinists to pursue their passion, no matter the stereotypes assigned to them. In fact, these stereotypes that my attempt to hold them back actually inspires them to work harder. Black Violin gives music students a glimpse of what their future in music could look like. The two performers address this in their music video for the song “Stereotypes.” The song incorporates a voice over of Kev describing how and why he loves crushing the assumptions that others make of him as he performs on stage with Wil.
3. They personify dedication
Mastering the violin requires intense dedication and practice. “I really look up to them for their skill as classical musicians,” Florida International University sophomore Roger McAllister said. “They use classical technique in such an interesting way to create something new. It’s really inspiring.” After choosing to the play the violin and viola, Kev and Wil started practicing daily. Kev went to a performing arts middle and high school to hone his skills, taking rigorous orchestra classes every day. The duo even worked on their craft outside of school, playing gigs with quartets around town. Today they average over 150 shows per year.
4. They prove friendships last a lifetime
Going to colleges almost 500 miles apart didn’t break Kev and Wil’s friendship. Nor did Kev holding first chair while Wil held the second chair in high school orchestra. After graduating from Florida State University and Florida International University, the musicians began making “beats” for previously unheard-of artists including Pitbull. The reactions Kev and Will received from combining their beats with the violin sparked the idea for Black Violin, allowing them to further their music careers by combining their experience in classical music with their passion for hip-hop. Now they get to live their passion with their friend by their side.
5. They continue the legacy of Stuff Smith
The name “Black Violin” actually comes from one of Stuff Smith’s 1965 album with the same name. Like Black Violin, Smith, a black swing era jazz violinist, brought a new layer to classical violin music. Kev initially learned about Smith in college when his professor, Chauncey Patterson, requested he listen to one of Smith’s tapes. Kev had never heard a violin played with such passion and continued to research Smith. The album Kev listened to, Black Violin, inspired him so much that he and Wil drew their name from that album.
6. They produce creative music
Black Violin seamlessly incorporates their classical training into hip-hop tracks in their latest single “Dreamer.” The song’s foundation rests in classical violin technique while also embracing lyrical and vocal elements typically associated with rap and hip hop. “I think that a lot of violinists who try to implement pop or modern music simplify it to the point where there’s not much substance anymore,” UC Irvine junior Rachel Lam said. “Black Violin somehow manages to make their music their own because there’s more musical texture to it rather than just imitating a harmony.”
7. They performed at one of President Obama’s Inaugural Events
Black Violin has even received praise and standing ovations from former First Lady Michelle Obama. The duo performed at the Kids’ Inaugural Concert in 2013. Michelle Obama and Jill Biden coordinated this event in 2009 for his first inauguration. The concert paid tribute to military families and inspired kids to act in service of their communities. Black Violin performed that night along with artists like Usher, Beyoncé, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Katy Perry and Soul Children of Chicago. Black Violin recognizes that they have a platform. And they choose to advocate for music education and participate in events that show kids exactly where passion and determination can get you: an audience with the first lady herself.
8. They’ve produced for some of the biggest names in the music industry
Hello Pitbull, Wu Tang Clan and Alicia Keys. Black Violin has produced and written for them as well as other big music industry names like Lupe Fiasco and Rick Ross. They also composed the music for the Fox TV series Pitch. Black Violin’s talent goes beyond expertly playing their instruments and creating music for their brand. They know how to enhance other artists’ music using their expertise in hip hop, R&B and classical music. These collaborations, along with their own music like the album Stereotypes, brought them endorsements from Yamaha Music and Bose.
9. They inspire children
Black Violin uses their platform to show kids the importance of the arts in their lives. And they prove this by doing what they do best: performing. They played for 19,000 fifth-grade students over three days as a part of the Blue Ribbon Festival in Los Angeles. The festival raises awareness for the importance of music education for kids. Black Violin takes their work with children seriously; they see a duty to use their platform to direct kids to a brighter future. They show what can happen when you focus on your passion rather than giving into peer pressure. Their musical ability, charisma and upstanding character makes them inspiring role models not only for school-aged children, but also for college students hoping to pursue a career in music.
10. They have unique music
Black Violin started out playing clubs in South Beach, Florida. They noticed that people were drawn to their music because it sounded different than anything else they’d heard. Now as internationally-recognized artists, Black Violin continues to surprise audiences with their “classical boom” music. Their ingenuity sets them apart from other artists, bringing classical music to the next generation.
Experience Black Violin live at The 2019 NAMM Show. Music faculty and students can register through GenNext to attend the full weekend of networking, educational sessions, and concerts.
This post is sponsored by The NAMM Foundation.