Ezinma, the classically-trained violinist who became a viral sensation after her video covers of trap music went viral, is sharing her gift of music with inner-city students.
Affectionately known as “Classical Bae,” the 29-year-old Nebraska native developed a love for the violin at the age of four after being assigned to create a homemade version of the instrument by a teacher. She told Complex last year that she then became obsessed with playing the violin.
“I just begged my parents to play. I did not stop,” she said. “Finally, they gave in and rented this little violin, and I ended up really taking to it and loving it.”
As a young adult, Ezinma moved to New York and graduated from the Mannes School of Music and gained notoriety for fusing classical music and hip hop. She had her breakthrough moment in 2017 when her cover of Future’s “Mask Off” went viral as part of the rapper’s #MaskOffChallenge. She even caught the eye of Beyonce and traveled with the megastar on her Formation World Tour.
In addition to working with Queen Bey and performing at Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden, Ezinma became one of the faces of Essentia latest campaign, encouraging people to “do that ‘thing’ they really want to do.”
Now, Ezinma is sharing the lessons and tools she learned during her journey with young people of color. During quarantine, the musician joined forces with Re-Create, which provides educational programming during after school hours for New York City Public School students between kindergarten and 5th grade, reports Fox 32 Chicago. According to a press release, spearheaded lessons like “How To Make a Violin At Home,” “How to Make a Foot Chart,” and “My First Violin Lesson” for students attending PS 9, PS 166, and PS 84.
Ezinma also partnered with Wide Open School to tell the history of Ludwig van Beethoven’s famous piece “Symphony No. 5 in C# Minor,” which is famously known as “Beethoven’s Fifth.”
Moving forward, Essentia says the violinist will lend her support to their commitment to After-School All-Stars, an organization that dedicated to uplifting underserved communities.
Furthermore, Ezinma is gearing up for the launch of her nonprofit foundation, HeartStrings, a music-based youth development program for children K-5 of diverse backgrounds, later this year, says Essentia. The HeartStrings Academy will equip each student with a quality instrument, music instruction, and community engagement activities along with access to world-renowned concerts and performance. Her goal is to help children of color get more exposure and access to classical music.
“Being somebody who is not white or Asian in the classical space is difficult,” she told Complex. “I never saw another black person playing the violin until I was 15 or 16. Anything that veers from [what’s traditional] feels disrespectful in [the classical] world.”
- Ezinma, also known as Classical Bae, was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, U.S. to a Guyanese father and a German-American mother. Ezinma’s mixed cultural and ethnic background influenced her musical upbringing and helped mold her into the versatile artist she is today.