are Inspiring, Uplifting and Entertaining
A Feature Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

Before performing their song "The Mission" Black Violin declared that their mission is to inspire, uplift and entertain and that's exactly what they did at the Shea Center for Performing Arts (located on the campus of William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey) on February 05, 2015 with their inventive style of sophisticated street savvy music.

Black Violin in New Jersey are Inspiring, Uplifting and Entertaining

Black Violin is Wilner "Wil B" Baptiste and Kevin "Kev Marcus" Sylvester. The two are string instrumentalists who blend classical with contemporary bluegrass, hip-hop, R&B and rock. Black Violin has played and collaborated with the likes of P. Diddy, Kanye West, 50 Cent, Tom Petty, Aerosmith, Aretha Franklin, and The Eagles to name a few. In a live setting they are accompanied by ace turntable whiz DJTK (Dwayne Dayal) and drummer Beatdown (Jermaine McQueen). The group's name is a tribute to jazz violinist Stuff Smith whose last solo album was called Black Violin.

Not only is Black Violin committed to their animated art but they are also active in schools presenting programs geared towards younger fans. The pair encourages people of all ages to tap into their potential, to think outside of the box whether it is in the arts, science or whatever your passion is. On February 5th, they presented two shows at the Shea, one in the afternoon aimed at students with another concert in the evening for the general public.

Black Violin in New Jersey are Inspiring, Uplifting and Entertaining

For the evening event, classical music was piped in as the quartet took the stage. Wil B and Kev Marcus faced each other as they played together and then separately, each demonstrating different approaches to the instrument in clean, crisp strokes. Between playing the two would rap or sing as the rhythm team crafted heavy beats.

"We encourage photos, dancing," they declared and during a number of songs they invited fans to clap, put their hands up in the air or stand, thus elevating the energy of their performance. They mentioned that when they were at Dillard High School of Performing Arts they were studying classical music but they were also into contemporary artists such as Jay Z. Black Violin's composition "A Flat" combined both elements starting with beautiful string work later blending with beguiling beats. This tune allowed DJTK and Beatdown to strut their stuff, too.

Black Violin in New Jersey are Inspiring, Uplifting and Entertaining

Wil B introduced us to his violin Tiffany stating that she pays my bills. "We are going to do something special for you". Using effect pedals along with plucking the strings Wil B played Tiffany as if she was a guitar. He also sang showcasing a nice range that could go from low to high. Kev Marcus returned as they talked about reaching for the stars while exploring spacey sounds with their instruments. The band moved into some good hefty grooves as the crowd stood up to dance.

During their "Freestyle" segment they crafted music on the fly. Declaring it a "YouTube moment" as each "Freestyle" is different since "you (the audience) are part of the music making". Wil B plucked his violin as Kev Marcus drew his bow over the strings. Both conjuring up tantalizing tones from their instruments as the drums punctuated their points, then the turntable added scratches and voices to the mix. Multi-instrumentalist Wil B moved to the keys adding another texture to their muse. "The Mission" was a spirited piece that also showcased strange yet stunning sounds from the stings.

Black Violin in New Jersey are Inspiring, Uplifting and Entertaining

"Mind if we play classical music," they asked as they moved into a pretty piece that still had spice by melding long expressive notes with shorter strokes. The pace picked up as the drums and turntable changed the vibe yet the stings remained passionate and precise. They mentioned that they would be available after the show and Marcus would explain why he plays an instrument with no noticeable body. They finished up with a composition that blended big beats with beguiling strings that evolved into the encore as fans were already on their feet clapping and moving to the music.

Black Violin was one of the most innovative groups we have seen in recent years. They effectively melded genres; ones that you would not think would work together yet worked well and Black Violin was engaging. They inspired, uplifted and entertained. Black Violin was well worth going out on a bitter cold February night to experience. The Shea Center for Performing Arts is an intimate theater that boasts a customized, state-of-the-art sound system, computerized lighting and a unique seating/stage configuration that ensures a close performer/audience connection. The Shea Center continues to host a wide array of artists such as Black Violin. Upcoming events at the venue include Barry & Larry, Catherine Russell, Halcyon Trio, Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes and Amy Helm.

Black Violin in New Jersey are Inspiring, Uplifting and Entertaining

Related Links: For more information on BLACK VIOLIN and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- Black Violin | WP Presents

(Originally Published on February 07, 2015)




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