Kevin Sylvester says that when most people see a 6'2", 260-pound black man, they don’t expect him to also be a classically trained violinist. A recent exchange with a woman in an elevator, when he happened to have his instrument with him in its case, drove that point home.
“She’s like, ‘What do you play?’” he recalls. “I’m like, 'I’m a violinist’. And she was like, 'Well, obviously you don’t play classical, so what kind of style do you play?’”
Sylvester says he explained that while he does have a degree in classical music, he plays all kinds of styles. “She didn’t mean it maliciously,” he says, “but I hope she gets to see us in concert and we can change her perception.”
Moments like this inspired Sylvester and his partner, violist Wilner Baptiste, to call their new album Stereotypes. It’s the latest release by their duo Black Violin, whose seeds were planted years ago when the two met as high school students in Florida.
Photo: Lisa Leone/Courtesy of the artist