TAMPA — Black Violin will perform Thursday, Feb. 20, 8 p.m., in Ferguson Hall, at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N. W.C. MacInnes Place, Tampa.
Tickets start at $28.50. For details, call 813-229-7827 or visit strazcenter.org.
The Fort Lauderdale-based classical-meets-hip-hop duo of Kev Marcus and Wil Baptiste recently released their album “Take The Stairs,” which debuted in the Top 10 across multiple genre charts, including No. 1 in Current Classical, No. 1 in Classical Crossover, No. 7 in Heatseekers, and No. 9 in Current R&B/Hip-Hop.
For 16 years, Marcus and Baptiste have been merging string arrangements with modern beats and vocals. The two met in orchestra class at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, becoming classically trained on the violin and viola through their high school and college careers. Post-college, they reconvened to produce beats for South Florida rappers, and began building an audience in local clubs. They later went on to win “Showtime at the Apollo” in 2005, and eventually sold out headline performances at venues across the country, including a sold-out two-night headline run at the Kennedy Center in 2018. Their unique brand of merging the genre they were listening to — hip-hop — with the world they were studying — classical — was celebrated with collaborations with Alicia Keys, Wu Tang Clan, 2 Chainz and others.
Black Violin tours extensively, playing over 200 shows a year. Many of these are performances for young low-income students in urban communities, and in the last year alone the group played for over 100,000 students. These performances aim to challenge stereotypes and preconceived notions of what a “classical musician” looks and sounds like.
“The stereotypes are always there, embedded so deep in our culture,” said Baptiste in a press release provided by the Missing Piece Group. “Just by nature of our existence we challenge those ideas. It’s a unique thing that brings people together who aren’t usually in the same room, and in the current climate, it’s good to bring people together.”
Often, the duo will work alongside a youth orchestra in the market, bringing them on stage for a performance. Their most recent visits to Tampa resulted in sold-out concerts in Ferguson Hall to multi-generational crowds who love their crossover mastery of rhythm and virtuosity.