Classically-trained and killing the game, the Black Violin duo are everything you’d want from a strings-meets-hip-hop sound.

Snowball to Success

With Kev Marcus on the violin and Wil B on the viola, Black Violin got started by covering their favourite hip-hop tunes which quickly became popular in a club setting. After submitting a tape to Showtime at the Apollo, an American variety TV programme, they were selected to compete and went all the way to the finish line, winning the series!

The success of Black Violin snowballed from there. From performing at the Billboard Awards with Alicia Keys, to working with the likes of Lil Wayne and Kanye West, the work came flooding in. 200 shows a year demonstrates how popular they became! They even performed two very special sold out shows at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on the 50th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King.

Since then, we’ve seen some hugely successful albums come from Black Violin, including Classically Trained in 2012 and Stereotypes in 2015. More recently, their album Take The Stairs was nominated for the Grammy for Best Contemporary Instrumental album, but they were just pipped to the post by jazz fusion giants, Snarky Puppy.

Black Violin and RSL

One of our favourite Black Violin moments has to be the track “Stereotypes”, and its accompanying video. Not only is their talent on these string instruments incredible to watch, but the song’s message is all about crushing stereotypes, and never assuming who somebody is or what they are capable of based on the way they look. It’s a really powerful video and we’d implore you to give it a watch!

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by RSL Awards (@rslawards)

Now if you’ve been paying attention over the last few weeks, you may have noticed that the RSL Classical Violin syllabus is on the horizon, and if you’ve listened to any Black Violin recently (or ever!) you’ll understand the need to include these guys in the syllabus. You may or may not find our favourite Black Violin tune hidden in there somewhere… you heard it here first. (Also, get practising – it’s not an easy one!)

Black Violin started the Black Violin Foundation, co-directed by their wives, which works with schools and youth orchestras, giving over 100,000 students access to quality music programmes that encourage them to be creative. Truly inspiring stuff!

We love how Black Violin show that a classical training never means you should pigeon-hole yourself into that genre forever. They are the perfect example of how a classical training can set you up to be a fantastic, technical player and performer so that you can get out there and succeed in any genre that inspires you.

If you’ve enjoyed learning some more about Black Violin today, then stay tuned on the Classical in Conversation blog because there will be plenty more where that came from. Don’t forget, RSL Classical Violin is just around the corner!