Classically Trained Hip-Hop Duo Black Violin Joins Grand Rapids Symphony for ‘Symphony with Soul’

Violinist Kevin Sylvester and violist Wilner Baptiste went to college to study classical music and learn their craft. But when they returned home to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, “Kev Marcus” and “Wil B” began covering hip hop songs on their instruments as Black Violin. Soon they were invited to appear with Alicia Keys at the 2004 Billboard Awards, and two years after first sending an audition tape to Showtime at the Apollo, they were invited to compete and promptly won the competition. Black Violin was on its way.

The classical and hip-hop crossover duo joins the Grand Rapids Symphony for its 18th annual Symphony with Soul at 8 p.m., Saturday, February 16 in DeVos Performance Hall. Concert sponsor is Steelcase, Inc., and Guest Artist Sponsor is Ferris State University. Associate Conductor John Varineau leads the Grand Rapids Symphony in the evening of gospel, spirituals, jazz, blues, and R&B, celebrating diversity and inclusion in West Michigan, featuring community musicians joining together with nationally renowned artists to perform for the wider community. Symphony with Soul also features the Grand Rapids Symphony Community Chorus, a vocal ensemble that sings in the gospel tradition, led by Duane Shields Davis. Raised on a steady diet of both hip hop and classical music, Kev Marcus and Wil B have built a musical style all their own that’s often described as “classical boom.” Black Violin uses music to break down stereotypes and cultural barriers, one gig at a time. Known for a “hard-hitting beat with lush string sounds,” Black Violin has toured with Kanye West, Jay-Z and Linkin Park and has collaborated with Aerosmith, Wynton Marsalis and Elvis Costello. In January 2013, they performed for President Barack Obama at his Second Inauguration.

Tickets for Symphony with Soul start at $18. Click here to purchase.

 

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