The genre-defying hip-hop/classical duo, Black Violin, is set to perform at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, 345 Washington St., St. Paul.
Classically trained violinists, Wil B and Kev Marcus – collectively known as Black Violin – will perform with their band April 19 for a 7:30 p.m. show that is presented by the Minnesota Lottery. This show is a return of the duo, who has previously played the Ordway, as well as the Dakota – all sold out performances.
What may have been first seen to some as a novelty act, Black Violin has proven its merits in both the hip-hop and classical communities, while at the same time bringing together two seemingly opposite styles of music. At the group’s shows the audience tends to be as diverse as the music, with young “sneaker heads” bobbing to the music alongside suit-clad middle-aged individuals who may at one time considered themselves “classical purist.”
Black Violin blends their violin and viola playing with hip-hop production and DJ scratching to create a sound unique and infectious. Buoyed by guest appearances from the likes of Black Thought of The Roots, Pharoahe Monch, Melanie Fiona, jazz pianist and producer Robert Glasper and jazz singer Kandace Springs, Black Violin’s second LP, “Stereotypes,” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Classical Crossover Chart and No. 4 on the Billboard R&B Chart.
“We’re so excited to have Black Violin back to the Ordway for the second time – literally back by popular demand,” said Dayna Martinez, artistic director of Education and Community Programming for the Ordway. “When they were here for a sold-out crowd in November 2017, they played the 1,000-seat (Ordway) Concert Hall and put on a really special scaled-down show, perfect for that intimate venue. This time they will rock out in the larger, 1,900-seat Music Theater, and will be able to use their full sound and lights. It will be a show the audience won’t soon forget.”
Martinez said Black Violin has the perfect blend of classically-trained technique, mixed with the deep groove of hip-hop and rock.
“That is what we’re going for in the Music & Movement series – artists of impeccable talent who are rooted in a culture or technique, but put a contemporary, unique spin on it and make it their own,” said Martinez.
While most audiences at a classical music performance are reserved and demure, Martinez said not this one.
“Black Violin connects so well with the audience and draw them in, making them a part of the performance, which really just feels like a fun, house party,” said Martinez. “And, they really appeal to all ages and all types of music-lovers. They and their band are such charismatic, talented musicians and they put on a show that includes music that everyone will enjoy, be it classical, R&B, hip-hop or even folk/bluegrass. They move from genre to genre effortlessly.”
“Artists like Black Violin are important not just for their innovation and artistry but because they bring people and cultures together by creating something new. By combining genres, they unite people. It is impactful for students from all backgrounds to see two Black men as artists and leaders, breaking harmful stereotypes and lack of representation and moving us forward where possibilities are open to all students,” said Kelli Foster Warder, director of Education and producing associate at the Ordway.
According to Foster Warder, in collaboration with Roseville Area High School and Walker West Music Academy, a music learning community rooted in African-American culture located in St. Paul, 30 youth musicians will rehearse and perform onstage for two numbers with Black Violin. There will also be a post-show mingle with DJ Carlos Garcia.
Tickets for Black Violin are $37-$62 and available online at www.ordway.org/event/black-violin or by calling the Ordway Box Office at (651) 224-4222.