Black Violin blends classical music with hip-hop

Bach meets boom box when Black Violin takes the stage.  Credit: The Roots Agency
Bach meets boom box when Black Violin takes the stage.
Credit: The Roots Agency/Brian Stollery

There’s something missing from much of today’s music.

Real musical instruments.

Part of the mission of the classically trained group Black Violin, out of Ft. Lauderdale, is to encourage the use — and appreciation — of live music over the produced sounds and beats that dominate the hip-hop charts.

“One of our main things is to bridge the music back to the forefront,” says group member Wilner “Wil B” Baptiste.

He thinks there are several reasons for the lack of real instrumentation on today’s records.

“The artists probably don’t have a lot of experience with live bands — it’s expensive to hire a live orchestra,” Baptiste says. “True artists make music to appeal to people who are more into music and who love that live sound.”

So, you have to be a true fan to seek out the real thing. Black Violin plays the Mann Center for the Performing Arts on Monday in a sold out show that’s part of the venue’s Young People’s Concert Series.

The band — Baptiste and Kevin “Kev Marcus” Sylvester, plus a percussionist and a DJ — got their big break in 2004 after taping a winning “Showtime at the Apollo” performance at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. They had a little time to kill in the city and called up Alicia Keys’ manager. Keys put them on the stage with her at the Billboard Awards in Las Vegas that year.

From there they worked with a range of major artists, from Kanye West to the Eagles, and have played on Broadway and for President Obama. They rock the house, from packed arenas to kids concerts.

It’s as if Bach had a boom box.

“We want to bring kids to classical music,” Baptiste says.

Black Violin
Aug. 5, 11 a.m.
Mann Center for the Performing Arts
5201 Parkside Ave., Fairmount Park
Sold out, 215-878-0400
www.manncenter.org


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