Black Violin, led by classically trained string players Wil B. and Kev Marcus, is bringing its “Give Thanks Tour,” to the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts Thursday evening.
Joining them onstage are DJ SPS and drummer Nat Stokes.
The band’s Give Thanks Tour employs playful storytelling, whimsical string melodies, and hard-hitting beats to highlight the unifying pillars of the holiday season: Giving back to others and being wholeheartedly thankful.
The show will be at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Ford Center. Tickets range from $20 to $50 and can be purchased online.
Fans can expect to dance along to hits from the band’s Grammy-nominated “Take the Stairs” album as well as holiday favorites from their “Give Thanks” album.
It’s the second time Black Violin has been in Oxford and Marcus said he’s looking forward to returning.
“We played at Ole Miss, at the Student Union I think. It was a long time ago,” Marcus said. “But we always look forward to coming to Mississippi and rocking out.”
Marcus described Thursday’s show as “a meal and not a snack.”
“There’s really nothing like us,” he said. “People can expect to see and hear something they’ve never heard before. It’s a bit of classical meets holiday meets hip-hop meets pop – a nice mixing, melting pot of goodness.”
Marcus said the show will also bring a message of unity, thinking differently and breaking stereotypes.
“All of those themes are woven throughout the show,” he said.
Marcus and Baptiste first met in orchestra class at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, becoming classically trained on the violin and viola through their high school and college careers.
Post-college, they reconvened to produce beats for South Florida rappers and began building an audience in local clubs. They later went on to win Showtime at the Apollo in 2005, and eventually sold out headline performances at venues across the country, including a sold-out two-night headline run at The Kennedy Center in 2018.
Black Violin’s latest release, Take the Stairs, earned a Grammy Award nomination for “Best Contemporary Instrumental Album.”
Pre-pandemic, Black Violin was playing over 200 shows a year (many of these are performances for young low-income students in urban communities – in the last year alone, the group played for over 100,000 students) with the goal of challenging stereotypes and preconceived notions of what a “classical musician” looks and sounds like.
“The stereotypes are always there, embedded so deep in our culture,” Wil said. “Just by nature of our existence, we challenge those ideas. It’s a unique thing that brings people together who aren’t usually in the same room, and in the current climate, it’s good to bring people together.”
Black Violin was just nominated for another Grammy for work they did with the Blind Boys of Alabama.
Last year, the group launched the Black Violin Foundation Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering youth by providing access to quality music programs in their community.
BVF believes that music and access to music programs should not be determined by race, gender, or socio-economic status. Black Violin Foundation’s inaugural program the Musical Innovation Grant for Continuing Education will provide scholarships to young music students to attend a program of their liking that fosters musical creativity and innovation.
For more information on Black Violin, visit https://blackviolin.net/.
News Editor Alyssa Schnugg contributed to this story.