- Faith & Family
Kev Marcus, 29 and wil B., 30 grew up in a tough neighborhood in Ft. Lauderdale. By coincidence, they were both students in a magnet program for Broward County Public Schools where they began to learn how to play the violin and viola. Can you imagine two sixth grade, Black boys carrying violin cases home from school in the hood?
“We got some strange looks back then and while we aren’t little boys anymore, many people are still taken aback, even fascinated, when they see us walk out on stage,” Marcus said.
But what propelled their group, Black Violin, to international acclaim from a second period classical music class in elementary school?
“We were always a little different I guess — listening to Jay-Z on our headphones and learning the classics like Bach too,” wil said. “I went on to Florida State University and Kev went to Florida International University. College was important for both of us it helped us take things to the next level. We turned professional eight years ago and have been touring the world year round ever since. It’s been an amazing journey and we’ve seen some incredible places: Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore. Sometimes it’s still hard to believe how far a violin and viola have taken us. It’s fun to see how people react to our music and to us. But even more, it’s made me appreciate the things I have, my friends and family and being able to do what we do.”
Black Violin often goes into classrooms across the country and they say that next to performing on stage, it’s one of their favorite activities.
“Black kids aren’t used to seeing two brothers pick up instruments that tend to be mastered by whites but when they see and hear us, they begin to believe that they can do similar things,” Marcus said. “Our audiences are often mostly Black and we bring them the classics and hip-hop all rolled into one show. For them it’s a very different world and a different side of music. We want them to think outside of the box because we believe that they too can change the world and make a difference one day. Kids are our biggest fans and we try to let them know that we are just like them.”
What ranks at the top of their list of memorable moments? Both brothers point to the first time they donned the stage of the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem.
“We were on the show a total of four times back in 2005 but when we took the Showtime at the Apollo 2005 Legend title it was like a dream come true,” Marcus said. I remember looking out at the crowd and realizing that this was the beginning of something really big in our lives. Hearing my mom scream for us was powerful. And to think — playing a violin was what got me there.”
Black Violin performs on Saturday, Jan. 14 at 8 p.m. at the Miramar Cultural Center.
By D. Kevin McNeir