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Black Violin is the Grammy-nominated duo comprised of violists Wil B. and Kev Marcus (born Wilner Baptiste and Kevin Sylvester) which combines classical training and hip-hop influences “to create a distinctive, multi-genre sound described as ‘classical boom.’”

To the average music fan, classical and hip-hop music may not have much in common on the surface.

But, that’s only if you’ve never heard Black Violin.

The Grammy-nominated duo comprised of violists Wil B. and Kev Marcus (born Wilner Baptiste and Kevin Sylvester) combines classical training and hip-hop influences “to create a distinctive, multi-genre sound described as ‘classical boom,’” said Honeywell Arts & Entertainment public relations specialist Michele DeVinney.

“Their unique blend challenges stereotypes and preconceived notions of what classical music (is) and encourages all ages, races, and backgrounds to join together and break down cultural barriers,” said DeVinney.

In a recent phone interview, Wil B. said they “definitely are excited” to play Wabash.

Wil B. said when he was growing up he wanted to play the saxophone but was “put in the wrong class.” That’s when he started on the viola.

“I’ve played it ever since,” he said. “I love the tone of it. … The reason I love playing it, especially now, is that I’m able to debunk the idea this thing has to be a certain way. It has to be utilized a certain way. It has to sound a certain way.”

Though the duo burst onto the music scene as producers, they quickly transitioned to performing.

“It never really changed. I think we were always performers and producing at the same time. Even with our own music where we produce it and arrange,” said Wil B. “I think the artist thing started when we started realizing people would love it.”

Wil B. said a big break for Black Violin was when they applied for, performed and won on “Showtime at the Apollo.”

“We sent the tape out and it was basically Kev and I standing in the middle of the living room just playing,” said Wil B. “We sent it out and they hit us back a year and a half two years later. We went there and didn’t know what to expect. We just went on stage. As soon as we went on stage and rubbed the log, we could tell the crowd was going to erupt. We could just feel it. We started playing and the crowd went crazy. We didn’t really try to do anything. We just went up there and did what we did. The crowd just naturally went nuts.”

Throughout their career, the duo has collaborated and opened for a diverse group of artists from Fort Minor to Kanye West to Tom Petty to the Wu-Tang Clan.

“It was great. It was in Prague I believe. We grew up with the Wu-Tang,” said Wil B. of opening for the Wu-Tang Clan. “The crowd really loved it. They’re such a hip-hop group so we were kind of bringing the string instruments to hip-hop. The crowd was really receptive to that. It was great, man. It was definitely a great moment.”

Wil B. said his advice to younger musicians was to “just have fun.”

“Make it yours,” he said. “That’s what we did. We found ourselves early. We played whatever we wanted to play. We’re able to make it speak our own language. I encourage all the kids. Find the thing you love doing. It doesn’t even have to be the violin. It doesn’t even have to be an instrument. Just something you love doing. And find a way to present it to the world.”

Wil B. said to that end, they started a nonprofit, the Black Violin Foundation, which is “dedicated to empowering youth by working with them in their communities to provide access to quality music programs that encourage creativity.”

“We started (it) to help fill in the gap,” said Wil B. “In our careers, we’ve had a lot of individuals in our lives that have helped us get to that next level, whether it’s an instrument to a music camp, we wanted to be able to provide that to kids that don’t have access.”

Rob Burgess, Wabash Plain Dealer editor, may be reached by email at rburgess@wabashplaindealer.com.