Take Hip-hop, classical, jazz, blue grass funk--and just about any other musical genre, blend them all together, and the violin will never be the same. So it is with the magical music performed by “Black Violin,” the musical phenomenon that is sweeping the country and the globe. To these two young people, there’s no such thing as music genre; they blend them all together to create their own. And, they will be in the Tri-Cities Feb. 27, 6 p.m., at the Science Hill High School Auditorium in Johnson City.

“Young, black and gifted,” these two young men create music that knows no ethnical, class, or age boundary--they appeal to a hip-hop fan base and to music enthusiasts of all ages and all nations. They play violins, but the violin has never sounded quite like the music these two young men create.

CenturyLink is partnering with The Umoja Unity Committee to bring this wonderful experience to East Tennessee. News media partners are Johnson City Press, 11 Connects/WJHL TV, and Jammin 103.9.

Ralph Davis with The Umoja Committee, said, “When we heard this group perform, all we could think about was that everyone needs to hear them. We wanted to bring them to East Tennessee to provide a unique cultural experience to the area, but we also wanted our young people to learn from these two young men. We are grateful for CenturyLink’s financial investment for which this opportunity would not be possible.”

To CenturyLink, “It’s about fostering creativity in our youth, and showing them how to look outside of traditional rules, forms and ways of doing things to look at endless possibilities,” said CenturyLink’s vice President Lottie Ryans. “CenturyLink is a family-oriented company, with values that tier to the Golden Rule and all that is implies. Education and child advocacy is CenturyLink’s key philanthropic focus. We saw this as an opportunity to provide what could possibly be a once-in-a-lifetime cultural and learning experience for our youth —an opportunity to be inspired by the creative genius of two young men who looked outside of tradition to literally create their own musical genre.”

Ryans and Davis also pointed to the educational aspect of the Black Violin concert. The event will be a fundraiser for the Johnson City Schools Symphony through ticket sales and concessions, as well as an educational opportunity for Tri-Cities youth as the performers will conduct workshops for students while in East Tennessee. Details of the workshop(s) are still being developed.

Actually, even amidst the fast evolving fame and glamour, the members of Black Violin are quick to say that they “just want to give children the same opportunities that they had.”  Most often in a down economic climate with state budget cuts, education is also affected. The first thing to go, usually, is the arts programs. These young men-- Wil B and Kev Marcus--are concerned that urban youth will not have the benefit of music as a positive alternative to other, more destructive pursuits. “With this in mind, they have embarked upon a campaign of social change-using youth orchestras and reinvigorated music programs to show children and teens that they are capable of expressing themselves in ways they have never dreamed.”


Indeed, these two young men are creating their own musical genre, and they have captured the attention of the world. Wil and Kev, playing violins since 14 and 9 years of age respectively—first met while attending the Dillard High School of Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, Fl. Dillard is known for exceptional music programs which served to nurture their budding talents. But music legend violinist Stuff Smith was the inspiration that fired the creativity in these two young men and set them on a journey that will forever change how people look at the violin. They brought the violin to life. Actually, Smith’s last album, entitled “Black Violin” inspired the name the group would be called, in honor of the man who had shown them that there were no limits to what the violin could do.

They went on to complete high school and college on full musical scholarships. Since that time, they quickly developed a name for themselves in the musical industry performing at such events and venues as the Billboard Music awards and in 2005 were awarded the coveted “Apollo Legend” award by the esteemed Apollo Theatre in Harlem. They have performed across the U.S. and globally at such places as Prague, Dubai, South Africa, and across Iraq to U.S. military troops.

Ticket Costs

o        $15.00 Adults (over 18 years of age)

o        $10.00 (13-18 years)

o         $7.50 (12 years and under)

Where to purchase tickets

  • CenturyLink Store at Johnson City at 1914 N. Roan St., 423-283-0058
  • CenturyLink Store at Bristol, Va. At 200 Linden Square Drive, 276-466-9151
  • Taste Budz Restaurant, 300 South Roan St., 423-943-9162
  • Johnson City High School Symphony Members


About CenturyLink

CenturyLink is a leading provider of high-quality broadband, entertainment and voice services over its advanced communications networks to consumers and businesses in 33 states. CenturyLink, headquartered in Monroe, La., is an S&P 500 company and is included among the Fortune 500 list of America’s largest corporations. For more information on CenturyLink, visit www.centurylink.com.

About The Umoja Committee

The Umoja Committee is a group of people interested in seeing the people of Johnson City/Washington County and surrounding areas in Upper East Tennessee develop a community united in every way. Umoja helps others to learn and understand so as to develop appreciation and respect for each group’s history, traditions and contributions to our American history and to reduce violence through knowledge. The Committee organizes the popular Umoja Festival usually held in the fall in the Johnson City area, a festival which means simply “unity” and provides a host of family friendly events and activities designed to create understanding, respect, and value for individual group’s uniqueness.