Today, Black Violin, the classical-meets-hip-hop duo of Kev Marcus and Wil Baptiste, announced Give Thanks, their debut holiday album out November 20th.
“Give Thanks employs playful storytelling, whimsical strings, and hard-hitting rhythms to highlight the unifying pillars of the holiday season: Giving back to others and being wholeheartedly thankful,” Black Violin says of the full-length. The announcement comes with the release of the album’s title track.
Give Thanks follows the Black Violin’s 2019 full-length Take The Stairs, which debuted in the top ten across multiple genre charts: #1 in Current Classical, #1 in Classical Crossover, #7 in Heatseekers, and #9 in Current R&B/Hip-Hop. Take The Stairs was praised by Loudwire, The Root, and Billboard, who said the album “celebrates Black Violin’s genre-less approach to music, from the futuristic anthem ‘One Step’ to the elaborate ‘Serenade.’”
In the last year, Black Violin has performed at the Oscars Governors Ball, on The Today Show, and on Access Daily. Earlier this week the duo released their video for “Impossible Is Possible.”
For 17 years, Black Violin has been merging string arrangements with modern beats and vocals. Members Kev and Wil first met in orchestra class at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, becoming classically trained on the violin and viola through their high school and college careers.
Post-college, they reconvened to produce beats for South Florida rappers, and began building an audience in local clubs. They later went on to win Showtime at the Apollo in 2005, and eventually sold out headline performances at venues across the country, including a sold out two-night headline run at The Kennedy Center in 2018.
Their unique brand of merging the genre they were listening to (hip hop) with the world they were studying (classical) was celebrated with collaborations with Alicia Keys, Wu Tang Clan, 2 Chainz and others. NPR took note and declared “their music will keep classical music alive for the next generation.” UPROXX also featured Black Violin in a mini-documentary as part of their “Uncharted” series, watch the video below.
Pre-pandemic, Black Violin was playing over 200 shows a year (many of these are performances for young low-income students in urban communities – in the last year alone, the group played for over 100,000 students) with the goal of challenging stereotypes and preconceived notions of what a “classical musician” looks and sounds like.
“The stereotypes are always there, embedded so deep in our culture,” says Wil. “Just by nature of our existence we challenge those ideas. It’s a unique thing that brings people together who aren’t usually in the same room, and in the current climate, it’s good to bring people together.”
Last year, the group launched the Black Violin Foundation Inc., a non profit organization dedicated to empowering youth by providing access to quality music programs in their community. BVF believes that music and access to music programs should not be determined by race, gender, or socio-economic status.
Black Violin Foundation’s inaugural program the Musical Innovation Grant for Continuing Education will provide scholarships to young music students to attend a program of their liking that fosters musical creativity and innovation. Programs can range from private lessons, to summer music camps, to college courses. Scholarships will be awarded bi-annually to up to 20 applicants per scholarship cycle. More info at: http://www.blackviolinfoundation.org