If you ever walked through SEPTA’s Jefferson station you may have noticed a tall, skinny African-American young man playing the violin. He’s best known as “Sean the Violinist.” I remember hearing him before I saw him; and I knew whoever was playing was putting his entire soul into the music. OUTPour’s “Day in The Life” series continues with student and street performer Sean Bennett.
Bennett graduated in 2014 from the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts and is preparing to audition for the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School. Also, Bennett is part of a duet called “Onyx Violins” with friend Samir Robinson.
“Playing gives me a sense of integrity, because a lot of people wouldn’t care if I was just another black guy just standing there.”
He is the winner of the Marian Anderson Award, a grant program with the Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan. It’s for young adults to study music who may not otherwise be able to afford private lessons.
“I don’t care if I get a dollar, I just want to play!”
Bennett understands the common misconception white Americans have when they see a black teenage boy, they immediately think sagging pants, dangerous thug, criminal and often disposable. More times than not, this a population that is ignored and goes unseen. Bennett knows the importance of showing a positive and contrasting image of what the media portrays — because black male-hood is not a monolith.
There are many Bennetts out there who are black and queer. They are in our classrooms, churches and community centers waiting for someone to nurture their potential.
Here is to all the Bennetts in the world!