Homer's Odyssey; Black Violin, Classical Music Meets Hip-Hop

Jan 23, 2018

The current owners of the Marlin’s are clearing  house. Notable examples include slugger Giancarlo Stanton and Mr. Marlin himself, Jeff Conine. Reportedly, Derek Jeter has also expressed interest in removing Homer,  the moving monument designed by Red Grooms and set off when a Marlin hits a home run.

Jeter’s hands are tied when it comes to dispatching the colorful structure.

Homer belongs to the taxpayers and it is owned by Miami-Dade County. The structure cost around $2.45 million  to complete and 75 percent of the funding came directly from taxpayers.

Another person who has been opposed to  Homer since construction of the stadium began in 2009 is current Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.

Reportedly, players and fans alike have complained about Homer. Players complained that it was distracting to hitters.

While some fans agree that Homer is a kitschy structure that makes Marlins park unique, others, like Gimenez, would love to see the structure removed  from Marlin Stadium.

The arts editor of Ocean Drive Magazine, Brett Sokol, joined us in the program to talk about the fate of Homer.

Breaking Stereotypes

A duo of South Florida classically trained musicians are meshing music theory and structure with Hip-Hop’s swagger and rhythm. Kevin Marcus and Will Baptiste -who play violin and viola respectively- are Black Violin.

Black Violin is what may result if Johann Sebastian Bach collaborated with Kanye West.

Their music affords them a platform to wow audiences with their unique meshing of musical genres, while simultaneously breaking down different stereotypes.  

Their most recent album is aptly titled “Stereotypes,” which they are very familiar with. 

In the title track, also called "Stereotypes," Marcus’ lyrics defy labels placed upon black men. “My No. 1   stereotype is just because I am six foot two, 260 pounds does not mean you have to be scared of me,” he declares in the song.

The song ends with a call to end misconceptions about what is possible with a violin, but most important, to end the negative perceptions about the musicians playing the violins.

“One reason I smile on stage is because I know I'm completely crushing perceptions of not only what a violin can do or what music can possibly sound like, but also what a black man is capable of,” rings as the music fades.

Marcus, who has been playing the violin since age 9, said: “I realized that [the violin] is a strength, a weapon or a tool.” He explained that both he and Baptiste “don’t look like they are supposed to play it.”

Baptiste, who started playing the violin and the viola at age 14, toys with people, asking them to guess what it is inside his case.  “They never guess what is in the case,” he said. Baptiste explained that through their performances, Black Violin can “bridge the gap between genres and music,” as well as with “people and different cultures.”

To the unassuming eye, Marcus and Baptiste, both African-American men, stand tall with strong physiques, seem more like athletes than classically trained musicians.

The pair, both natives of Fort Lauderdale, met while attending Dillard High School of the Performing Arts, a prestigious magnet school, where they played in the orchestra together.

“Ever yday in second period we were dedicated to Mozart,” said Marcus about his experience at the magnet school.

Together, the pair performed at the Broward Center of Performing Arts and around their community, occasionally getting paid for some of their performances. “We weren’t thinking about it at all,” said Marcus about being professional musicians someday. “We were just having fun.”

The pair split up upon graduating from high school, and they attended different colleges. They reunited after completing college and resumed playing together circa 2004.

2005 was a pivotal year for Black Violin. It marked the launching point of their professional career.

The duo went on to win "Show Time at the Apollo" in the famous Harlem Apollo Theater. Winning the television show afforded the duo the opportunity to work with artists like Alicia Keys, Kanye West and Wu-Tang Clan.

Since then, Black Violin has toured consistently, exposing audiences to their unique mixture of classical and urban musical styles.

Black Violin is returning to the Broward Center of Performing Arts, this time around as a successful professional ensemble.

They are performing on Jan. 25  at 11 a.m and 8 p.m.