Black Violin, Breaking Your Musical Stereotypes | UNCHARTED


Our manager be, like, “Hey, I got these two
black guys that are gonna play violin in your club. It’s gonna be amazing,” and they would literally,
like, laugh us out there door. They’re like, “This is South Beach. This is dance clubs. What do you mean you’re going play a violin?” I think stereotypes are something that we’ve always dealt with in a very direct way. I mean, we don’t look like violinists. So when we’re in airports or anywhere, they
often try to guess what’s in our case and they are always wrong [LAUGHS], you know. It’s motivating too, you know. Please tell me I can’t do something. It’s extra boost to get me to show you and
prove to you that I can do it. I started playing the violin when I was 9-years-old. I got caught stealing candy and my mom comes
home and she’s in a great mood and I’m just in the room, like, “Oh, my gosh.” When I found out about it, took him back to the store, gave it back to the manager and I decided I have to get him off the streets. Next day, she puts me in this music class,
the only thing left was the violin and I did not want to play that instrument. I wanted to play the saxophone. I went up to the band teacher and signed up
for the summer program that they had and they put me in the wrong class. Right before I picked up the viola, I was a 12-year-old-kid
in the hood, just didn’t really have a lot of clothes and just things that, you know,
I think a lot of people take for granted. We know some of you thought you were coming
to a quiet violin performance, but rule number #1 to a Black Violin show is that this is
a party. You guys want to party with us? [CROWD SCREAMS] One, two, three,…[SINGING] When we used to do these little shows, people used to just always say, “Hey, we want those black violin guys to come back.” So it was actually the fan base that created
the name. That is my second favorite thing about playing
the violin, is that I ain’t supposed to be doing this, and what other job or what other
occupation is there that you can change the way people think when you’re
finished with your job. Getting into a performing arts high school,
ended up meeting Will there, I would play my Bach and Beethoven, but I was always very,
very hip-hop, you know, and then I had a teacher that just cared. His name was James Myles. He bought a viola for me, like, he bought,
a $2,000 advanced student viola for me and I still have it to this day. He just pushed us, made sure we practiced and
he said, “This violin can open doors for you that you’d never imagine,” and boy,
was he right. We were, like, you know, ramen noodle eating
college kids. There wasn’t a lot of opportunity happening
for us. I took a tape, recorded them in the studio,
sent the tape off to New York city where the Apollo was being filmed. Two years later, we get a call that our video
was found in the back of a P.O. box and that the producer of the show watched it, loved
the guys and want us to come on. ANNOUNCER: The world famous Apollo Theater is proud to present, “It’s Showtime at The Apollo.” We grew up watching The Apollo so it was a
big deal to us and we went there and, you know, we’re downstairs before we get onstage
to perform. We’re thinking, Man, everyone’s getting booed,
man. What if we get booed?” That crowd, that will boo you. Like, they love to boo you. So the fact that we won the entire thing was
amazing. Next day we go out and we play for Alicia
Keys’ manager and, honestly, that’s what changed the life. Everything became a blur from there. After “Showtime At The Apollo,” a lot of changes and a lot of travel came in and that’s when he was barely home and he was traveling a
lot, really trying to, you know, get to the next level, get to those next steps. Tonight is the 84th and 85th show of the year
and we’re halfway through the year. After a while, it just kind of starts taking
a toll on you. And you know, with the kids too, I mean it’s
difficult. Sometimes it’s hard, like, them being on the
road so often, especially, like, February, they were gone pretty much all month and I
had just had a baby in December, but he’s out and he’s making a difference in people’s
lives and I know that and that makes him being gone ever more worth the while. I have my kids and my kids are the reason
why I’m here because now I’m thinking about not just making the best music for me, but
I’m also thinking about making music that my kids can be proud of. All right, well this is Black Violin with
the Greater Miami Youth Symphony and this is our last song. And this one is called “Shaker.” We also have kids in youth orchestras
come and join us onstage. We’ll bring them in, onto our stage so it’s,
like, almost like we’re performing and infecting the community at the same time. We feel like we must play for these kids. We do something that’s really, really impactful,
you know, we feel a responsibility to show them, “What can you do differently than no
one thought you could do?” I just played with the Black Violins, which
is actually a really cool experience. Favorite moment was probably…playing. Playing with them. I thought they were, like, gonna, you know,
be normal people playing classical music or something, but, like, it was sort of like
hip-hop and classical at the same time. They’re unifying different types of genres and melding them into one. So it’s really something that really defies
stereotypes. The message is global, you know. So many children live inside of a box and
it is their goal to get them out of that box and let them know that regardless of your
circumstance and where you come from, that if they could do it, that any kid is capable
of doing exactly what it is they want to do and excelling and changing the game and rewriting
the rules so that they’re on top and until that happens, they ain’t done. Yeah, they’re not done.