HIP HOP VIRTUOSOS: Wilner Baptiste and Kevin Sylvester are Black Violin, They take the stage at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on Jan. 25.



Kevin Sylvester is accustomed to people assuming things about him based on his stature. As a 6-foot-2-inch, 260-pound black man, most are expecting him to be a linebacker or center; not a classically trained violinist.

An exchange with a woman in an elevator is one of many encounters where people are surprised to discover what he does. He happened to have his instrument with him during the elevator encounter, prompting the woman to ask, “What do you play?’” he recalls. “I’m like, ‘I’m a violinist.’ And she was like, ‘Well, obviously you don’t play classical, so what kind of style do you play?’”

Sylvester says he explained that while he does have a degree in classical music, he plays all kinds of styles. “She didn’t mean it maliciously,” he says, “but I hope she gets to see us in concert and we can change her perception.”

Moments like this inspired Sylvester and his partner, violist Wilner Baptiste, to call their third album Stereotypes. Their sound appeals to open-minded hip-hop devotees and those with eclectic tastes.

The duo met as high school students in Florida; and they’ve spent the last 10 years “working to encourage and empower people of all ages, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds to find what connects us, rather than shine a light on what divides us.”

During 2016, Black Violin played for nearly 100,000 students and over 125 public shows across the US and Europe. They are currently performing across the nation on their ‘Classical Boom’ tour, which makes a stop at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on Jan. 25.

“As black men living in America, we understand challenges and we also understand the power of “I can’t,” yet we decide to live by and promote the power of “I can.” We’ve taken this opportunity to spread a message that challenges the world’s view of what it means to rise above labels, be daring enough to follow their passion and most of all, be true to themselves,” says a statement from their website.

The Broward show, underwritten by Suzanne and Bernard Scharf, will feature Black Violin’s distinctive combination of virtuosic string talent mixes with a driving beat, shattering stereotypes with electricity, energy, and contagious enthusiasm.


WHAT: Black Violin

WHEN: Jan. 25 at 8 p.m.

WHERE: Broward Center for the Performing Arts

COST: Tickets begin at $16 and can be purchased at www.browardcenter.org/events/ detail/black-violin-2018

CONTACT: For more information about Black Violin, visit http://blackviolin.com