Black Violin

By :- Janette Brin

Lifestyle & Culture

One of the hardest working and interesting musical ensembles I have ever seen has to be the group known as Black Violin - with their unique, innovative and groundbreaking blend of classical, R&B, hip-hop, and even a touch of Bluegrass.  Jody Hill - drummer, Kev Marcus -violinist, and Wil Baptiste - violist, along with turntable whiz “TK” Dwayne Dayal, all have some Caribbean connection if not a direct one.  Kev hails from Dominica and St. Croix, while Wil was born in the Bahamas and TK has a Trinidad connection.  “The Islands are home to us,” they told me in unison. I had the opportunity to catch up with the group after a recent performance in Tortola. Black Violin as it turned out proved to be the defining moment of the H. Lavity Stout Community College’s purpose in having its annual Performing Arts Series. The influence on such a beautifully diverse audience was amazing. I must say an impression has been made on my 3yr and 8yr old nephews who have Black Violin YouTube videos locked on their Ipads for their now regular air violin performances. 

The very different and varied influences on their music come from everywhere, “Everything that touches us influences our music,” Wil spoke for all three of them.  From their beginnings as classically trained musicians – Wil and Kev met each other in high school orchestra – they have thought and then played, outside the box.  Their first big break came when they performed at the legendary Harlem Apollo Theater with Alicia Keys and did the 2004 Billboard Awards.  From there as they say, the momentum has not stopped and the time on stage is always wonderful for them.  

They have toured with many groups around the world such as Linkin Park, Fort Minor, the Wu-Tang Clan, and have collaborated with other famed personages in the musical world like P. Diddy, Aerosmith, Aretha Franklin, and others.  They have kept at what they love doing and say that the many unglamorous and grueling hours on the road, averaging 200 shows a year worldwide, and being away from our families have, “Taught us how professionals conduct themselves and how they observe and relate to their work.” 

 What is remarkable about these talented, educated, and hard working guys however is their message - one that inspires, uplifts, and helps kids especially, to become thinkers in the future.  That message is to think creatively and outside the box.  To try to come up with something that no one has done before and to do what you love to do, is what they know all about first-hand.  Wil explained that, “We were in this position of having to decide if we would take the high road, or goof off.”  “The point is to take something you love and do something with it,” chimed in Kev.  They all agreed that the Arts in public schools are being drastically cut today.  Nevertheless, they each benefitted and had access to a good musical education that put them on the road to where they are today.  They like to mention this fact during their performances, hoping to have an impact on mothers and fathers in the audience.  Each member of Black Violin is an example of that classical training they received in school by taking instrument classes and music classes - of Bach blended with a crack band!

“Today this group is more of a family and it is a blessing to be part of this unit and the impact we have on kids.  This group even kept a young girl from committing suicide. 

Kids are following us and telling their parents about who has impacted them.  Within the next 3 or 4 years we will be on top,” comments Jody.  After ten years of hard work, they deserve it.  Kids reach out to them and come out to their performances in droves.

“Kids enjoy themselves with our music.  They get it!”

The overarching message from them is: “Be yourselves, we are on stage and we have fun.  You too one day could enjoy doing something and get paid for it.  Whatever it is find it!  If you love yourselves, be what God intended you to be.  Get to a place where you have ultimate joy – be yourself, reach for the stars.  This is what has given us the opportunity.  We encourage others to be the same.” 

Wil follows up with these words of advice: “What you have to do is find out what makes you happy.  Just do it the best that you know how to do as much as possible – do it a lot… and be better than anyone else.  End up where we are.  Get on stage and make people smile.  Say yours prayers and keep it movin’!”



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