The dynamic duo Black Violin (Kevin Sylvester & Wilner Baptiste) are all too familiar with how it feels to be stereotyped because of their outer appearances. The 2 men are classically trained instrumentalists who also happen to be African American males - who love Hip Hop culture and all music in general.
In an interview with NPR, Sylvester - who plays the violin - tells a story of an encounter with a woman on an elevator. She saw him with his violin case and asked "What do you play?". He says "I'm a violinist." She replies, "Well, obviously you don't play classical, so what kind of style do you play?" He then explains that he is classically trained however he plays many styles. Sylvester says that even though the woman had no malicious intent, he hopes she will one day get to see them in concert so they can change her perception.
Wilner Baptiste says that he started playing the viola back in high school band class - where the two met. He picked the instrument because no one else seemed to want it to play it. "No one would pick up the viola," he says. Some twenty years later, he has never put it down. Both members of the duo clearly know how to take obstacles and turn them into opportunities.
Watch "A-Flat" Official Video
Black Violin gives a hip hop edge to classical that is refreshing and inspiring. They eloquently provide a musical style provides a bridge in both directions. It introduces Hip Hop to classical lovers and classical to Hip Hop lovers.
Black Violin's album "Stereotypes" deals with the concept of using music to blur lines and shatter preconceived notions of what is to be a young black American. Simultaneously, it inspires anyone who might be afraid to break out of their shell or to swerve out of their lane.
Their very existence serves as a friendly reminder to never make assumptions based on one's appearance. In the title track "Stereotypes", they state that their objective is to completely crush people's perceptions of not only what a violin can do, but what a black man is capable of.
Watch "Stereotypes" Official Video