One of our favorite things about producing events is working with incredibly talented artists, musicians and performers from every discipline. And, in many cases, whole new genres of entertainment! For instance, for a corporate event taking place tonight at the iconic Philadelphia Museum of Art, we booked (on Friday!) one of the most innovative musical acts available on the urban scene: BLACK VIOLIN.
Kev Marcus and Wil B are Black Violin. They are two classically trained musicians who perform their own original style of music: a groovy blend of jazz, hip-hop, funk, and classical. Suckers for any artists who think out of the box, we were blown away with how this savvy duo came to be. So, here it is, in a nutshell. (Did we mention how excited we are to hear them live tonight?)
Wilner “Wil B” Baptiste and Kevin “Kev Marcus” Sylvester met at the Dillard High School of Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale. After graduating from college, they joined up as hip-hop studio rats in South Florida, working with several different acts before returning to their roots to create their own groundbreaking fusion of sound. Their innovative vibe has seen them play for everyone from the troops in Iraq to President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Ball in Washington, DC. They have also headlined 40 shows in two stints at the New Victory Theater on Broadway, including 16 sold out shows over two weeks last November. Along the way, Black Violin has wowed audiences at the legendary Harlem Apollo Theatre, accompanied Alicia Keys’ performance of “Karma” at the 2004 Billboard Awards, and appeared with Gym Class Heroes and Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump playing the hit song, “Stereo Hearts,” for VH1’s Unplugged. Recently, they appeared on The Queen Latifah Show and blew the entire audience away!
Since starting Black Violin a decade ago—named after an album by preeminent African-American swing era jazz violinist Stuff Smith—Wil B and Kev have performed an average of 200 shows a year in 49 states and 36 countries as far away as Dubai, Prague and South Africa, while appearing at official NFL celebrations for three Super Bowls and last year’s U.S. Open in Forest Hills with Jordin Sparks. The pair has played with the likes of Linkin Park member Mike Shinoda’s Fort Minor, while opening for Fat Joe, Akon and the Wu-Tang Clan. Individually and together, Black Violin has collaborated with the likes of P. Diddy, Kanye West, 50 Cent, Tom Petty, Aerosmith, Aretha Franklin and The Eagles. Kev supplied strings for a track on Lupe Fiasco’s Grammy-nominated Food & Liquor 2 album, and appeared on the Meek Mill cut “Maybach Curtains” with John Legend, Rick Ross and Nas. Wil and Kev also scored an episode of CSI: New York, adapting the finale of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly for an on-screen murder.
Like we said earlier, we can’t wait to hear these dudes play tonight! It’s sure to rock out the museum in a whole new, cool way. In the meantime, check out their rendition of Sam Smith’s “Stay with Me”…