Westbank Heritage Festival is like a ‘mini Essence Fest,’ T-Ray the Violinist says

Westbank

There have been no violins or pianos or guitars littering Trenton Ray Thomas’ residence in Baton Rouge when he was rising up. He would not have an uncle that performs trumpet or a cousin who headlines a hip hop group.

“I am the one instrumentalist and musician in my quick household — nobody else. It is type of loopy the way it got here to be,” he stated.

T-Ray the Violinist, as he’s identified now and who is among the many acts within the Westbank Heritage Pageant (Oct. 21-22) lineup, ended up enjoying the instrument that now defines him by chance.

“As a younger child, you are influenced by your friends fairly closely. The cool youngsters run the yard, so the cool youngsters wished to be part of violin class and it wasn’t as a result of they have been considering enjoying violin,” T-Ray stated. “It was primarily as a result of they did not wish to be within the explicit class we have been in on the time. So, for me initially, it was an outlet to being in school two or 3 times per week. Then I started to develop extra of an curiosity in it.”

The curiosity blossomed right into a full-blown ardour by his senior 12 months in highschool. He turned down enjoying his senior 12 months of soccer at Woodlawn Excessive College to attend NOCCA’s summer season program.

“That was the turning level for me,” he stated. “That’s once I knew it was one thing deeper than me simply involving myself on this explicit instrument. I knew I solely had one 12 months left in highschool after which I’d be going to school, and I knew I wished to review music in faculty.”

T-Ray, aided by the deep inventive tradition at NOCCA, began experimenting with sounds and combos of genres on what most contemplate is a classical musical instrument.

He turns the violin sideways and plucks it like bass guitar whereas his band performs hip hop. He creates funk sounds from this instrument greatest identified for giving life to the creations of Beethoven, Brahms, Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky.

However put in T-Ray’s fingers, the violin wouldn’t be outlined by one style.

“I grew up within the 90s. I used to be accustomed to listening to old fashioned R&B, listening to quite a lot of hip hop after which the R&B of the 90s as properly, so I believe that is the place my sound developed from even earlier than I knew what I used to be doing sound-wise,” he stated. “It is not a factor like I am a violinist and I’ll go the overall other way of what a violinist identified and accustomed to doing. It actually, actually developed throughout my faculty profession in doing open mic’s and simply being accustomed to listening to completely different sounds outdoors of what the violin was identified for.”

He is all the time been at risk of put right into a field — one thing the self-described “multi-genre violinist” detests.

“Some years in the past, I began doing hip hop covers, which quite a lot of violinists do. You’ll be able to go on YouTube and see hip hop covers all day,” he stated. “And other people began to determine me as a hip-hop violinist after which I needed to take a step again … and was like, ‘I am not a hip-hop violinst. I am a multi-genre violinist as a result of I can play a classical piece, I can play Miles Davis.’ Simply for example, I can play Disclosure. I’ve molded issues with my profession to the place I’m able to take part in all of those completely different genres,” T-Ray stated.

T-Ray the Violinst performs on Oct. 22, at four:35 p.m., as a part of a pageant that Dru Hill headlines with an eight:50 p.m. scheduled efficiency on Oct. 21. The pageant takes place on the Alario Heart’s Segnette Area.

T-Ray’s and his band — dreams2reality — turned some heads after they performed on the fest final 12 months.

“The gang (had) a second of, wait, ‘Is he enjoying a violin and enjoying a tune I do know?'” T-Ray stated with fun.

Sure, the hip hop, the R&B, and the funk will possible soar off his unorthodox instrument once more this 12 months in a pageant T-Ray stated is stuffed with native expertise.

“It is virtually like a mini Essence pageant,” he stated. “There are undoubtedly quite a lot of R&B up to date city acts. I believe it is cool as a result of although I used to be capable of carry out at Essence within the Conference Heart this previous July, quite a lot of New Orleans R&B artists aren’t, for my part, provided that platform throughout Essence Fest. Though there’s headlining acts like Dru Hill and Gina Brown and Anutha Leve this 12 months, it provides up to date R&B acts a distinct platform outdoors their ordinary exhibits and curated exhibits that they play all year long.”

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