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"You Can't Do That!" And How I Did

“These 2 things don’t belong together. Be a model, or be a classical musician. You can’t do both!”

When I began my journey as The Shirtless Violinist last summer, I knew the idea would ruffle some feathers in the classical music world. As evidenced by the real comment above, some people in the community have a rather narrow perspective with little room for exploration and possibly ZERO room for — gasp! — being sexy.

Say what?! 

It’s definitely okay to feel sexy while you’re playing a classical instrument. Hell, other musical genres have been doing it for years and years. It’s not just inevitable; it’s needed! These two things certainly CAN belong together and small-minded comments only fuel my mission further.

But for every utterance of scandal, I have received a hundred comments of love and support. Like so many other people I know, I am simply an artist working on his art. That’s a very good thing, and I embrace criticism from those who dare to do the same, publicly.  Besides, what is art without a little adversity? 

I am on a quest to “make classical music sexy”, but it doesn’t stop there. From the very beginning - from the moment of incarnation - The Shirtless Violinist also proposed another daring idea:

To take the “shirt of my back” and help those in need. 

Through the use of my YouTube channel and other social media platforms, I have supported The True Colors Fund, Food Bank, and Combat Veteran Suicide Awareness. I have even launched my very own charity campaign called “The Shirt Off My Back Challenge” designed to provide clean clothes for the homeless and nutritious food for the hungry. To learn more about this special campaign, visit my website where I also sell t-shirts (go figure) and donate all of the proceeds to the charities listed above.

The charitable component of my endeavors remains to be a very important part of the bigger picture, and that’s not going to change.

I have just released my 9th music video, a stirring cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” complete with my own backup singers and filmed inside a beautiful church (don’t tell anyone, but when I got permission to use the sanctuary, I “forgot” to mention the whole “playing shirtless” part…let’s hope the Priest doesn’t watch YouTube!)

“Hallelujah” was the song I was playing in my living room when I had the idea to create the “Shirtless Violinist” 6 months ago - so it seems only fitting that I would give it some love, but I had to figure out how to make my version fresh and new. I guess I could have decided that playing this classic tune on a violin, without a shirt, would be original enough - but I truly feel this is a song that requires a little something “extra.” An idea of mine had been brewingfor a few months when I realized I had never heard an instrument backed up by singers (it’s always the other way around!)

So I found this lovely little group called “The Sound Four” and I thought - YES! That’s it!

Have you ever seen a SOLO violin backed up by a QUARTET of singers? I sure haven’t! If you listen closely (I dare you to close your eyes) I truly feel the “voice” of the violin shines in a way I’ve never quite heard before. It’s very exciting to be part of a new “brainstorm” like this one, and it’s just the beginning of many more exciting ideas to come.

I am preparing to shoot my next video, a high-energy tribute to the Oscar-nominated film La La Land, complete with 20 choreographed dancers on a massive stage. I’ll even be dancing for the first time (watch out Lindsey Stirling!)

Next month,  I will be timing my video release with Disney’s new live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast.” Will I be Beauty or will I be the Beast? You’ll just have to wait and see (hint: I look great in yellow!)

Videos aside, I have also been fortunate enough to catch the eyes of 3broadcasting companies and am in talks to appear on major network television shows this coming Summer and Fall.

If there’s something I can tell you about my adventures as The Shirtless Violinist it’s this: 

These two things do belong together (and you can do both.)