Captivating crescendos of hip-hop violinist, violist duo

Kevin Sylvester and Wilner Baptiste of Black Violin slow down their concert to showcase their classical violin training. Their talents have led them to perform with musical acts such as Alicia Keys, Wu-Tang Clan and Linking Park. Brook Joyner/HERALD

Danielle Chavis

A smoky haze filled the auditorium of Van Meter Hall. As the audience awaited the arrival of Black Violin, late attendees in search of group seating and conversations filled the atmosphere. Once the lights dropped and the blue show lights bounced amongst the walls, the show had finally begun.

The WKU Cultural Enhancement Series invited the hip-hop string duo Black Violin to bring a new experience to WKU and the local community. Dean of the Potter College of Arts and Letters and Chair of the Cultural Enhancement Committee Larry Snyder spoke about the importance of hosting culturally diverse events.

“True to our mission we want to inform, enlighten and provoke,” he said. “These are events folks might not otherwise be able to attend or speakers they might not be able to see in our neck of the woods. Good universities are engaged in cultural education.”

In pursuit of continuing its mission, the WKU Cultural Enhancement Series live streamed the event for the first time. This helped provide opportunities in the future for anyone to be informed of campus events like Black Violin.

Black Violin, composed of violinist Kevin Sylvester “Kev Marcus” and violist Wilner Baptiste “Wil B”, exposed the audience to an intrinsic sound of classical instruments mixed with modern hip-hop and pop.

The audience applauded and danced as remixes of modern hits like “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran and “Black Beatles” by Rae Sremmurd were performed.

However, an impressive moment of the night was when Black Violin freestyled on stage. Accompanied by a drummer and a DJ, the audience watched in awe as the unpracticed sound developed into a modern masterpiece. Afterward, the group received a standing ovation from the crowd.

The concert continued with more electrifying music and selected songs from their album “Stereotypes.” Violinist Kev Marcus explained how their music is written and performed to encourage others.

Marcus announced to the audience “Think outside the box, and break stereotypes.”

Performing their original composed songs, Black Violin established its message through lyrics like “I’m not invisible.” Inspiring the crowd to voice their beliefs and to remain true to their identity, the audience stood in silence while waving their phones as light.

Optimistically, the audience applauded in standing ovation numerous times throughout the night. Closing the blended night with the original piece “Shaker,” the group shook the room.

In the words of “Will B,” the group throws “ a little stank” on classical musical and brings a new meaning to breaking stereotypes.

Reporter Danielle Chavis can be reached at 270-745-6288 and [email protected].