When asked what people should know about classical and hip-hop musicians Black Violin, Wil Baptiste replied: “It’s like a big bowl of okra, with a lot of different ingredients. The main ingredient being classical (music).
Black Violin, composed of Baptiste on viola and Kev Marcus on violin, will perform on Wednesday at the Chautauqua establishment. The duo, who will be joined on stage by DJ SPS and drummer Nat Stokes, will perform a “high energy” show that it’s a lot “fun.”
“Our show is something you’ve never seen before” Baptiste said. “The goal is to get people to think outside the box.”
Baptiste said his biggest musical influences include Stevie Wonder, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye and Bob Marley. Baptiste said it’s one aspect of entertaining people, but he also wants to motivate audiences like his musical icons.
“If you love good music and want to experience good music, this show is for you” he said. “It’s one thing to be an artist who entertains or to be an artist who entertains, but also inspires. Inspires and uplifts you, and makes your day a little better.
Baptiste said he has been playing viola for 27 years and has been performing in the group for 18 years. He said learning to play the string instrument was a mistake that turned into a career.
“It certainly 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 saxophone and they put me in the wrong class, but everything went well.”
The name of Black Violin’s tour is “Impossible tour.” Baptiste said the name of the tour derives from their song “The impossible is possible.”
“There is so much going on in our lives and in our society that 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 latest 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 woke up and was told I was nominated for a Grammy, so that was cool.
It won’t be the first time Black Violin has performed in Chautauqua County. In 2017, the band took to the stage at the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts on their Classical Boom tour.
“I remember that show. It was a great show, “ he said. “The audience was very energetic. I remember it was a big show – very diverse.
Baptiste said Black Violin has performed live in person since early March 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in concerts being canceled. He said the tour’s first performance will be on Thursday, August 12 in Chester, Va., With the Chautauqua Institution performance being the group’s fifth stop.
“It’s been over a year since we took to the stage. It has been a long time. We can’t wait to get out there and do what we’re doing ”, he said. “We expect people to be eager to go out and listen to great music. It’s really about going out and having a good time. To have the opportunity and the blessing of being outdoors.
The Black Violin show will begin 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 required to enter the field, but is required before entering the amphitheater, the pavilion of performance and other places and experiences if you are seated in a vaccinated section only.
For more information on Black Violin, visit blackviolin.net.