South Carolina Violinist Makes Pop Music Sound Pretty

Oct 4, 2012 2:29pm

Seth Gilliard, 22, of Charleston, S.C., definitely knows how to pull some strings, or rather, play them.

The southern violinist, who just graduated from Furman University in May, is taking the music scene by storm with his classical renditions of mainstream pop songs.

“I did the whole classical thing growing up, taking private lessons, all the stuff that’s entailed with that. Then around late high school, junior or senior year, I started experimenting with more pop music, just because it was what I was listening to, what my friends were listening

to,” Gilliard told ABC News.

Veering away from classical music into pop culture has proven quite successful for Gilliard. His YouTube page currently has 18 covers he’s performed and professionally recorded by artists such as Justin Bieber, Usher and Alicia Keys.

“Now that I’ve graduated, I wanted to see how far I could get in the world of pop music. So I’m doing the covers, and I’m currently working on an original EP. It’ll be the same genres, same type of music but my own composition,” Gilliard said.

When asked how Gilliard chooses which songs he covers, his answer was simple: “Strategically.”

He continued, “I try to find songs that I like, but actually, what I try to do is find songs before they get really popular. I pay attention to the billboard charts. I pay attention to the radio. I’m a music buff, it’s what I do. From there, I just try to add my own flavor, whether it be improvisation, which comes from jazz, or I’ll do mash-ups of classical pieces into my covers.”

Gilliard tries to make his music original by adding his “own flare to it.” He’s been playing the violin since he was five-years-old, and is grateful for all the support he’s been given around the Charleston area, especially from the sushi restaurant, O-Ku, where he performs every Thursday night and has developed a large fan base.

“It’s been a little bit of a whirlwind, but it’s good though. It’s what I wanted. The O-Ku thing has been nice, gives me a place to play every week. It’s opened up a lot of other opportunities as well,” Gilliard said.

Tonight, Gilliard is performing at the MOJA Arts Festival, a celebration of African American arts and culture.

“I’m trying to tell my story through this recital, so I’m hoping this goes well,” said Gilliard.

His goal is to bring the attention of the masses to this type of music, which Gilliard says “is growing.”

“It’s kind of a shock factor for a lot of people, just because it’s different and something a lot of people haven’t heard before. It’s definitely funny to see people walking by and they kind of hear it, and then keep walking, and then come back,” Gilliard said.

He wants his music to open people’s ears to “something different,” and even though it doesn’t have lyrics, he hopes “it gives people that feeling of positivity.”

“I think the beauty of what I do is everyone can take from it what they will. It’s not straightforward. I could have played it with certain sentiments in mind, but it might mean something totally different to someone else.

To hear Gilliard’s music, click here.

 

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