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Black Violin to perform at Chautauqua Institution

Submitted photo Black Violin members, from left, Wil Baptiste and Kev Marcus, will be performing at the Chautauqua Institution Wednesday, Aug. 18. Black Violin is an American hip-hop duo from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., comprised of two classically trained string instrumentalists.

When asked what people should know about classical and hip-hop musicians Black Violin, Wil Baptiste said, “It’s like a big bowl of gumbo, with a lot of different ingredients. The main ingredient being classical (music).”

Black Violin, comprised of Baptiste on viola and Kev Marcus on violin, will be performing at Chautauqua Institution Wednesday. The duo, who will be joined onstage by DJ SPS and drummer Nat Stokes, will be performing a “high energy” show that is a lot of “fun.”

“Our show is something you’ve never seen before,” Baptiste said. “The whole point is to get people thinking outside of the box.”

Baptiste said his biggest influences musically include Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye and Bob Marley. Baptiste said it’s one aspect to entertain people, but he also wants to motivate the audience like his musical icons.

“If you like great music and want to experience great music, this is the show for you,” he said. “It’s one thing to be an artist who just entertains or to be an artist who entertains, but also inspires. Inspires you and uplifts you, and makes your day a little bit better.”

Baptiste said he has been playing the viola for 27 years and has been performing in the group for 18 years. He said learning how to play the string instrument was a mistake that has turned into a career.

“It definitely wasn’t something where I woke up one day and said, ‘I’m going to play the viola and be an artist,” he said. “I wanted to play the sax and they put me in the wrong class, but everything just worked out.”

The name of Black Violin’s tour is the “Impossible Tour.” Baptiste said the name of the tour derives from their song “Impossible Is Possible.”

“There is so many things going on in our lives and society that the song is a way to give people hope,” he said. “The ideas you can make the impossible possible. People together can make the impossible possible.”

Black Violin’s newest album is “Take The Stairs,” which was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album. The Grammy nomination was the first for the group.

“It was great to be recognized by your peers,” Baptiste said. “It was really refreshing. It was just one of those things where I just had woke up and I was told I was nominated for a Grammy, so that was cool.”

This won’t be the first time Black Violin has performed in Chautauqua County. In 2017, the group took the stage at the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts during their Classical Boom Tour.

“I remember that show. It was a great show,” he said. “The crowd was very energetic. I remember it being a great show – very diverse.”

Baptiste said Black Violin has performed live in-person since early March 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of concerts. He said the first performance of the tour will be Thursday, Aug. 12, in Chester, Va., with the Chautauqua Institution performance being the group’s fifth stop.

“It’s been over a year since we hopped on stage. It’s been a long time. We are eager to go out and do what we do,” he said. “We are expecting people to be eager to come out and listen to great music. It’s really about coming out and having a good time. Having the opportunity and blessing to be out.”

Black Violin’s performance is scheduled to start at 8:15 p.m. at the amphitheater. According to chq.org/event/black-violin-impossible-tour, proof of completed COVID-19 vaccination is not necessary to enter the grounds, but it’s necessary before entering the amphitheater, performance pavilion and other venues and experiences if sitting in a vaccinated only section.

For more information on Black Violin, visit blackviolin.net.

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