Grammy-nominated classical and hip-hop duo, Black Violin has merged modern beats and vocals with classical string arrangements for over 17 years. The Duo, Kev Marcus, and Wil Baptiste met in high school and went on to study in high school and college. Both classically trained on the violin and viola, they began building a following appearing in local clubs. In 2005 they won Showtime at the Apollo and began to sell out venues across the country. They have collaborated with Alicia Keys, Wu-Tang Clan, 2 Chains, and others.
In 2021 their album “Take the Stairs” was nominated for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album at the Grammy awards. Black Violin is all about taking things further, exceeding expectations, challenging conventions. The classical-meets- hip-hop duo has steadily built a devoted following and a diverse touring base— culminating in such triumphs as two sold-out shows at the Kennedy Center with the National Symphony Orchestra commemorating the 50th anniversary of Dr. Luther King Jr.’s death—while occupying a musical lane that’s entirely its own.
“When you do something, you love, it’s not difficult,” says Wil. “I’m just going on stage and being who I am. When people want to listen, when you touch them and make them want to keep fighting—to see that spreading out to more people, it’s about way more than just the music.”
Black Violin’s work extends far beyond the stage, reaching deep into urban communities with numerous free performances for students and hands-on engagement with youth symphonies and community centers. Through collaborations with local and national education programs such as TurnAround Arts, Wil and Kev connect with more than 100,000 students throughout the year, mostly at low-income and Title 1 schools, and adopted Bethune Elementary, in Florida’s Broward County (near where they grew up) to initiate an ongoing mentorship program.
Wil expresses the idea that, no matter how unique Black Violin’s music may be, it is ultimately more than just a creative enterprise. “It’s really a movement,” he says, “an organism that’s its own thing and really feels necessary.”
Black Violin performs this year at Ravinia on September 11, 2021. For tickets visit the Ravinia Website.