Black Violin delivers genre-defying sounds, seeks to inspire young musicians

Wil “Wil B” Baptiste (left) and Kevin “Kev Marcus” Sylvester of Black Violin, who have been altering the perception of the string duo since 2004, perform at the Schuster Center in Dayton on Friday, May 6. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

caption arrowCaption
Wil “Wil B” Baptiste (left) and Kevin “Kev Marcus” Sylvester of Black Violin, who have been altering the perception of the string duo since 2004, perform at the Schuster Center in Dayton on Friday, May 6. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Acclaimed duo will perform May 6 at Schuster Center.

Viola player Wil Baptiste, known as Wil B, and violinist Kev Marcus, born Kevin Sylvester, of Black Violin have been altering the perception of the string duo since 2004. The native Floridians, performing at the Schuster Center in Dayton on Friday, May 6, have done so through musical philanthropy and its genre-defying mix of classical, hip-hop and other styles.

Black Violin self-released a pair of albums on its own DiVersatile label, “Black Violin” (2008) and “Classically Trained” (2012), before signing a short-lived deal with Universal Music Group. Black Violin dropped its lone major label offering, “Stereotypes” (2016), before returning to independent status for “Take the Stairs” (2109) and the holiday themed, “Give Thanks” (2020).

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Baptiste and Sylvester have worked with an eclectic array of musicians on stage and in the studio, from Alicia Keys and 2 Chainz to Tom Petty and Aerosmith. The classically-trained musicians, who met while attending Dillard High School of Performing Arts, founded the Black Violin Foundation in 2019 to provide arts and music education to students.

Baptiste recently answered some questions about touring, new music and other topics from his home in southern Florida.

caption arrowCaption
Wil “Wil B” Baptiste (left) and Kevin “Kev Marcus” Sylvester of Black Violin, who have been altering the perception of the string duo since 2004, perform at the Schuster Center in Dayton on Friday, May 6. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Wil “Wil B” Baptiste (left) and Kevin “Kev Marcus” Sylvester of Black Violin, who have been altering the perception of the string duo since 2004, perform at the Schuster Center in Dayton on Friday, May 6. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

caption arrowCaption
Wil “Wil B” Baptiste (left) and Kevin “Kev Marcus” Sylvester of Black Violin, who have been altering the perception of the string duo since 2004, perform at the Schuster Center in Dayton on Friday, May 6. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Q: How have the shows been in this COVID-altered world?

A: They’ve actually been pretty good. We really picked up where we left off in terms of the crowds and the intensity. The crowds have definitely been good. It’s been great just being back on the road again. It’s been a while so it’s been really rewarding and fun.

Q: What are the plans for summer?

A: We did a lot of shows starting in February so we’re going to take it easy for the summer. We have a few spot dates but no real tour. We’re going to work on some music and kind of get back into things. I’m looking forward to that.

Q: Are you thinking about a follow-up to the Christmas album?

A: We’re going to work on some new music, whether it’s a new album or just a new single. Right now, we’re looking at a few possible collaborations we want to explore but definitely new music. We did the Christmas album and now we’re ready for something else. We’ll figure out our next move during the summer.

caption arrowCaption
Wil “Wil B” Baptiste (left) and Kevin “Kev Marcus” Sylvester of Black Violin will perform at the Schuster Center in Dayton on Friday, May 6. Baptiste says the duo will figure out their next move this summer. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Wil “Wil B” Baptiste (left) and Kevin “Kev Marcus” Sylvester of Black Violin will perform at the Schuster Center in Dayton on Friday, May 6. Baptiste says the duo will figure out their next move this summer. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

caption arrowCaption
Wil “Wil B” Baptiste (left) and Kevin “Kev Marcus” Sylvester of Black Violin will perform at the Schuster Center in Dayton on Friday, May 6. Baptiste says the duo will figure out their next move this summer. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Credit: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Q: Black Violin has covered a lot of musical ground. Is there anything particular you’re itching to explore sonically?

A: For me, it’s just collaborating. We haven’t done a whole lot of that as of late and I definitely want to explore collaborating a bit more with different groups and artists. Sonically, I don’t know because, for us, it can go so many different ways. We’ve experimented in so many different styles of music. That’s something we love doing and that’s not going to change but who knows what it’s going to sound like?

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Q: Black Violin officially celebrates 20 years as a group in 2024. What’s most surprising about how your career has unfolded?

A: We never honestly had a vision. For us, we were just kids that loved music and loved to create. At this point, looking back to where we were, we’ve done so many amazing things and we’re continuing to grow. The most rewarding thing about what we’re doing now is the affect we have on people and the affect we have on kids. We were able to launch this foundation and those things are so rewarding. When we were first creating music, we would talk about how many Grammys we were going to get and all these different things but that hasn’t been our focus for a long time. We really just want to be able create music and continue to inspire and uplift people around the world.

Q: What keeps you two working to support young musicians?

A: One of the things we try to do is not only perform on stage but we also try to inject a little bit of inspiration into that community and kids are a huge component of what we do. We were kids and we understand the importance of arts and we understand how the arts impacted us. We want to be able to give that back to as many communities as we can.

Contact this contributing writer at 937-287-6139 or e-mail at donthrasher100@gmail.com.

HOW TO GO

Who: Black Violin

Where: Schuster Center, Second and Main streets, Dayton

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 6

Cost: $30-$50

More info: 937-228-3630 or www.daytonlive.org

Artist info: blackviolin.net