Culture Shock Miami Presents BLACK VIOLIN

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Violin Duo Bring unique brand of Classical, Hip-Hop and Contemporary Music to South Miami-Dade County

Culture Shock Miami brings back Florida’s own dynamic violin duo, BLACK VIOLIN, to the Main Stage at South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, Cutler Bay, on Friday, July 8th at 8 PM. BLACK VIOLIN’s Wil Baptiste (viola) and Kev Marcus (violin) who go by “Wil B.” and “Kev” are a string duo who perform their unique repertoire that bridges the world of classical music and hip-hop.

In 2015, BLACK VIOLIN released its second album, Stereotypes, which, according to the artists, imbues everything from dancefloor-igniting R&B to subwoofer-bursting rap with masterful instrumental flourishes and a positive social message.

Watch a video of BLACK VIOLIN:

Classically trained musicians, Wil B. and Kev have opened for such diverse top names in music as Kanye West, 50 Cent, Aerosmith and Tom Petty, and also creatively collaborated with the likes of Wu-Tang Clan, Linkin Park, Wyclef Jean and Alicia Keys, the latter for the Billboard Music Awards. They also performed for President Obama at his second inauguration.

Live, BLACK VIOLIN are joined onstage by a drummer and turntablist, transforming
their recordings into a visceral, virtuosic experience. BLACK VIOLIN will perform a free concert for Miami-Dade public school students at South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center on July 8th at 10 AM and speak about the importance of music education.

$5 tickets for ages 13-22 exclusively at Full price Tickets through $20-$45 and $10 for Youth Tickets for 12 years old and under. These tickets are available online at or through the SMDCAC box office by calling 786-573-5300. $5 Culture Shock Miami tickets are not sold through the SMDCAC Box Office or through Culture Shock Miami ticket sales for this performance end on Thursday, May 7, 2016 at 11:59 PM. No $5 tickets are available through the SMDCAC box office. Tickets go on sale on May 3, 2016.


Wil Baptiste (viola) whose stage name is “Wil B.” and Kev Marcus (violin) also known as “Kev” are the members of BLACK VIOLIN. They first met in Ft. Lauderdale, and played together in the orchestra at the Dillard High School of the Performing Arts. Classically trained by day, they faithfully put on their headphones and listened to the hottest rap records each night. They went to different colleges—Marcus attended Florida International University and Wil B went to Florida State—but then reconvened, moved into an apartment together, and started trying to produce other musicians. "We wanted to be the next Neptunes, the next Timbaland," says Baptiste, "but we noticed how, whenever we performed with our artists, the audience was really drawn to us."

They developed an act covering hip-hop songs on their violins, which became popular in local clubs. Two years after sending in a tape to Showtime at the Apollo, they were invited to appear on the show—which they won, and kept winning.

"After we won the Apollo, which is the hardest audience on the planet, we knew there was something there," says Kev. "The hard thing was to package it so that people would give us a chance, because we're doing something that nobody had ever seen. Every time we step on stage, we had to prove it over and over."

They were approached by the manager of Alicia Keys, who asked them to perform with the singer on the Billboard Awards. Other offers followed—they toured with Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park, opened for the Wu-Tang Clan, scored an episode of CSI: New York, and even performed for President Obama at his second inauguration in 2013. Individually and together, Wil B and Kev have worked with everyone from Kanye West to Tom Petty, Lupe Fiasco to Aerosmith. All the while, BLACK VIOLIN continued touring non-stop (playing as many as 200 shows a year) and released two independent, self-financed albums. The pair created a distinctive, peerless sound. "A hard-hitting beat with lush string sounds," says Wil B, "Something you can listen to if you don't listen to hip-hop, or if you don't listen to classical music—we bridge that gap."

But in bringing BLACK VIOLIN to Universal Music Classics, Wolf saw the opportunity to give the duo the resources that would take their music, and their intentions, even further. "These songs really put the message in the music, instead of being more instrumental," he says. "The lyrics reflect those ideas. A lot of them speak to racial strife today, in ways that are timely and timeless."

The results demonstrate all of the possibilities, in sound and content, for the versatile pair. "Invisible" offers a penetrating update on themes explored by Ralph Ellison in Invisible Man. The Beck-meets-Seal space-soul of "Addiction," with a lead vocal by Wil B, picks up where PM Dawn left off, while "Stay Clear" has a swirling groove that recalls such lush R&B as Quincy Jones's historic creations with Michael Jackson. The head-nodding, virtuosic "Runnin" required a new level of instrumental precision from the musicians; "we really had to practice and learn new things to pull that one off," says Kev.

Even the three covers included on Stereotypes are purposeful, mapping out the possibilities of strings in contemporary music. "Shaker," from Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring, is among the purest of American melodies ("You've heard it before, even if you don't know what it's called," says Wil B). Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "Walk On By" was given one of the most epic, dramatic string arrangements of all time in Isaac Hayes's incomparable 1969 rendition. And "Bittersweet Symphony," by the Verve (a bonus track on this album) is truly a modern classic; "that song's been in everyone's wedding for twenty years," says Wil B.

With Stereotypes, BLACK VIOLIN set out to achieve something more than just selling some records or gaining notoriety as a curiosity. We want to really be something that young musicians aspire to," says Kev. "For us, the violin is the vehicle for a bigger message, which is not to be afraid to be different."

ABOUT CULTURE SHOCK MIAMI ( http://www.CULTURESHOCKMIAMI.COM), a program of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, provides an affordable and attractive way to encourage high school and college students ages 13-22 to buy tickets to the rich variety of cultural events. The program is designed to introduce this next generation of audience members to live arts and cultural experiences at the age when they are beginning to make their own decisions about entertainment options. Based on research that shows most people begin their appreciation for the arts at a young age, is founded on the premise that when kids make the arts a regular entertainment choice, they are more likely to become the full-price ticket buyers and subscribers of the future.’s program partners include African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, Miami-Dade County Auditorium, South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center,, the Miami-Dade County Public School System, local arts organizations, and area colleges and universities.

Throughout the year, many Miami-Dade museums and cultural sites make two-for-$5 admission passes available to visitors. They include The Wolfsonian, Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, Perez Art Museum Miami, HistoryMiami, ZooMiami, Bass Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, and many more.

Culture Shock Miami was inaugurated in 2005-06 by the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, with a generous grant from The John S. & James L. Knight Foundation. Since then, it has sold over 60,000 tickets through its website A core group of arts organizations participate regularly in the program, including Actors' Playhouse, Adrienne Arsht Center, Cleveland Orchestra Miami, Dranoff 2 Piano Foundation, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Florida Grand Opera, Miami City Ballet, New World Symphony, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, and ZooMiami. The Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council develop cultural excellence, diversity and participation throughout Miami-Dade County by strategically creating and promoting opportunities for artists and cultural organizations, and our residents and visitors who are their audiences. The Department directs the Art in Public Places program and serves its board, the Art in Public Places Trust, commissioning, curating, maintaining and promoting the County’s art collection. The Department also manages, programs and operates the South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center, a campus of state-of-the-art cultural facilities in Cutler Bay, as well as Miami-Dade County Auditorium, Joseph Caleb Auditorium and the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, all dedicated to presenting and supporting excellence in the arts for the entire community. Through staff, board and programmatic resources, the Department, the Council and the Trust promote, coordinate and support Miami-Dade County’s more than 1,000 not-for-profit cultural organizations as well as thousands of resident artists through grants, technical assistance, public information and interactive community planning. The Department receives funding through the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners, The Children’s Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts, the State of Florida through the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Other support and services are provided by TicketWeb for the Culture Shock Miami program, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, the South Florida Cultural Consortium and the Tourist Development Council.

It is the policy of Miami-Dade County to comply with all of the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. To request materials in accessible format, sign language interpreters, and/or any accommodation to participate in Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs sponsored programs or meetings, please contact Francine Andersen 305-375-4634 culture(at)miamidade(dot)gov, at least five days in advance to initiate your request. TTY users may also call 711 (Florida Relay Service.)

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Christina Tassy-Beauvoir
Arts Marketing Network
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