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Stateside Podcast: Neoclassical pianist BLKBOK

Courtesy of BLKBOK

Detroit is known for the prolific art forms and artists it churns out organically – from design and fashion to of course music like gospel, Motown, and techno. But when you think of classical music, the Motor City isn’t the first thing that comes to mind for most folks.

Pianist BLKBOKmight be changing that.

He’s played jazz and blues, performed with acts like Cirque du Soleil, and toured with Justin Timberlake and Rihanna. And now he’s stepping out as a solo, neoclassical artist, with twin debut albums, Black Book and Black Book Deluxxe.

He cites Detroit as a big inspiration to his music.

“I feel like Detroit has so much influence on everything that I do,” BLKBOK said. “I always say there's no better place to be born. Like, Detroit is, is my heart and soul. And so much of me comes out and exudes in my art and my artistry.”

While banter between musician and audience in pop music is common, it’s pretty much unheard of in classical settings. BLKBOK flips that script. For him, part of the joy of music is connecting with his audience.

“It feels like freedom,” he said. “You know, that's the one word that I can say that describes the feeling of being on stage in front of an audience and connecting…It feels like we're all one thing and we're all going through this journey in this story together. I can say, like, that's one of the best feelings on earth.”


Looking for more conversations from Stateside? Right this way.

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Music in this episode is byBlue Dot Sessions

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Rachel Ishikawa joined Michigan Public in 2020 as a podcast producer. She produced Kids These Days, a limited-run series that launched in the summer of 2020.
Erin Allen comes to Michigan Radio as a new producer for the station’s Stateside show. She is an experienced communicator driven by her curiosity about stories of people.