At this point in his career, it might take us less time to list the amazing things Kev Marcus hasn’t done. As the violinist in Black Violin, Marcus has played thousands of shows all around the planet. He’s collaborated with the likes of Alicia Keys, Wu-Tang Clan, Lil Wayne, and 2 Chainz. He’s helped produce music for Tom Petty, Lupe Fiasco, and more. He’s opened for Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Akon. He’s played on Broadway, been part of Super Bowl and U.S. Open performances, and entertained President Obama at one of his Inauguration Balls. In the process, he’s also helped to change perceptions about what both classical music and hip-hop can be.

Before he was reaching listeners from all around the world, Marcus was a mischievous kid in Florida who was handed a string instrument and told to play. Prior to Black Violin’s upcoming tour (which includes a February 3 show at Marcus Performing Arts Center), the accomplished violinist spoke with My First Band host Tyler Maas about many of those aforementioned experiences, his musical start, and how meeting his longtime bandmate Wil B in high school—coupled with some formative instructors and significant album discoveries in college—changed the trajectory of his life. Along the way, Marcus also talked about busking outside of Miami night clubs to build a following and book shows, winning Showtime At The Apollo, and the importance of showing kids that classical music can be cool.

My First Band is sponsored by Mystery Room Mastering and Lakefront Brewery. The show is edited by Jared Blohm. You can listen to My First Band on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and wherever else you get podcasts. You can also listen to rebroadcasts of previous My First Band episodes on WMSE every Wednesday from noon to 12:30 p.m. CST. Music used in this episode comes courtesy of Devils Teeth (“The Junction Street Eight Tigers”) and Black Violin (“Dreamer”).