When you hear the phrase “violin player,” what comes to mind? Yo-Yo Ma? (Trick question—he plays the cello.) A stodgy, old white dude at the Philharmonic? Odds are it’s something along those lines. But when you meet Kev Marcus and Wil Baptiste, the two members of the group Black Violin, that perception will quickly change.

Both men came to the violin by accident. For Marcus, his relationship with the instrument started when he was 9 years old, after his mom caught him stealing candy. Determined to prevent her son from making thievery a habit, she enrolled him in music class the next day. The only instrument left for him to play was the violin. Marcus was not interested at all. “I did not want to play that instrument,” he recalls. 

Baptiste shared his hesitation. Growing up in the hood, he wanted to play the saxophone. But after he was accidentally placed into the wrong music class, he found himself with a violin in his hand instead.

Marcus and Baptiste’s respective introductions to the instrument seem rather fateful—as did their meeting, when both attended the same performing arts high school. Under the tutelage of a very caring teacher, the kind you’d see in an inspirational movie, the boys practiced and practiced and practiced. Their dedication has clearly paid off. 

Along the way, Marcus and Baptiste raised quite a few eyebrows simply due to the fact that they’re not what most people envision when they think of violinists. But flipping people’s expectations and impressions completely upside down only empowers the duo more. “It’s motivating,” Baptiste says. “Please tell me I can’t do something. I mean that’s an extra boost to get me to show to you—to prove to you—that I can do it.” And prove it they have.

For more on Black Violin, check out the latest episode of Uncharted in the video above, brought to you by Honda.