The uniquely gifted BLKBOK, a neo-classical piano prodigy from Detroit who uses his dexterous arrangements and melodic scores to audibly illustrate experience, that of his own, and his community’s across pivotal moments in American history, unveils his debut album Black Book. His first, since signing to Billy Mann and Benton James’ icons+giants, the sonically compelling and awe-inspiring album comes through partnership with ADA Worldwide/Warner Music Group.
“It is my honor to present the Black Book Album to the world today,” BLKBOK shares. “A real labor of love for me, the album is a series of musical poems that illustrate my thoughts, emotions, and perspectives of the social climate that we live in, stories of my personal relationships, and an opportunity to view the world through the keys of the piano.”
Recorded in Red Bull Studios in Santa Monica, CA, BLKBOK was inspired to create Black Book as a tribute to the movie Green Book and the courageous story of Pianist/Composer Don Shirley, who’s trailblazing spirit helped pave the way for black classical pianists to this day. Black Book is a 12-track body of work that includes a vocal collaboration titled ‘My Life,’ featuring Renée Elise Goldsberry, a Grammy and Tony award-winner for her role in the Broadway musical Hamilton. The rest is a collection of poignant and thought-provoking scores from ‘Michelle’s First Day at The White House’ to ‘George Floyd & The Struggle For Equality,’ ‘Cookie Waltz’ and ‘November 7, 2020’. A collaboration with award-winning poet Lauren Delapenha, provides an added creative dimension to the project. Black Book was recorded at Red Bull Studios in New York City.
“My goal for Black Book is to bring a hybrid genre of classical music to people everywhere,’ continued BLKBOK. “I hope to use this music as a means of bridge-building in addition to forging new connections and relationships built on mutual understanding, respect, and love for each other as one united human race.”
Creating awareness around the genre began earlier this year for BLKBOK with a viral moment on TikTok with his piano-driven rendition of Cardi B’s “Up.” He also recently released a mixtape titled CVRART, offering a neo-classical, hip hop inspired take on some of the most recent trending hits.
“I grew up on the west side of Detroit, a city known for producing some of the most iconic musical acts,” BLKBOK explains. “Growing up, I was into hip-hop and rap like all the kids in my neighborhood, but I was also obsessed with the music of Mozart, Debussy, and Bach – just as much as I was with Mos Def, or Biggie, or Busta Rhymes. To have this particular body of work, given what it means to me and to be able to share it with the world around Juneteenth – a day after President Biden signed legislation to honor that moment in our history – is surreal. It reminds me of why I created these scores and all the important narratives still to tell and creative connections to yet explore.”
BLKBOK’s ability to use his music to convey narrative and shine light on key moments in today’s zeitgeist. Coinciding with the album release, BLKBOK performs in the Juneteenth Foundation “Freedom Festival” in Washington D.C. on June 18th held at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. And again at a virtual performance for the festival’s Juneteenth Freedom Concert on June 19th amid headliners T.I., Domani and more.
BLKBOK is no stranger to the industry grind, having hit the road throughout his career with Rhianna, Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato, Timbaland, Cirque Du Soleil, John Mayer and more, as their piano player on the road. All the while, BLKBOK was composing scores of unfinished piano segments, collecting digital dust on a hard drive as the tour and travel life continued and, like all of us, then 2020 hit. And now, today, the accomplished musical auteur steps in focus, with himself and his body of work as the main subject.
Watch I AM BLKBOK: https://youtu.be/VVHaAZn9NGs
Born and raised in Detroit’s inner-city, BLKBOK (born Charles Wilson III), grew up in a music-filled house. While his parents and siblings were all musically active, little Charles could always be found walking his chubby fingers up and down the piano keys. His mom had no choice but to nurture her baby’s keyboard obsession and by the time he was 8, BLKBOK was an acclaimed piano prodigy, winning statewide accolades and college-level competitions. When it came to music, most of the kids he grew up with pursued hip-hop, adopting hip-hop monikers on trend with their time. However, it’s no coincidence that Charles chose the name BLKBOK, which echoes that of one of the greatest pianists and composers of all time. The tag is also an apt reflection of the elements that have contributed to the artist’s identity and symbolizes his colorful journey from pop and hip-hop culture to his present-day neo-classical debut album.
To learn more about BLKBOK’s story – I AM BLKBOK is now available.