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Wil Baptiste of Black Violin on Stereotypes and the Importance of Arts Education

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Black Violin
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Wikimedia Commons
Black Violin on stage in Dubai

The genre bending classical hip-hop duo Black Violin is playing a show at the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center in Cedar Falls on Wednesday, May 2. During this Talk of Iowa interview, Wil Baptiste, who plays viola for the duo, joins Charity Nebbe. 

Baptiste didn't really want to learn to play the viola at first; he wanted to play the saxophone but ended up in the wrong class. In that wrong class, he met Kevin Sylvester, who goes by the stage name Kev Marcus. They've been touring and playing classical music melded with hip-hop beats for more than a decade. 

Baptiste says that more than anything, he wants audiences who see Black Violin to walk away with a deeper understanding of the idea that you can't judge a book by it's cover. He appreciates that Black Violin audiences are diverse in every sense of the word. 

"The music is great, the performance is great, the lights, the sound, all that is amazing, but at the end of the day, these individuals are coming together enjoying something together," he says. 

"For that hour and a half, there's no colors. There's no religion. There's no age. There's nothing. It's just music. It's just love. It opens people's minds to a possibility that this person that's on stage that looks a certain way, and if I see someone that looks like him, I might have this negative image of this person. But maybe it will change now because I've witnessed something amazing on stage."

Lindsey Moon is IPR's Digital Producer
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa