Who is Black Guy White Violin? Palm Coast resident livens up streets with his music

Marcus Mckinnon is a violinist who plays on the streets of Palm Coast in hopes of making music his full-time career.

Marcus McKinnon goes by "Black Guy White Violin" to make it easier for people to look him up online. Photo by Alexis Miller
Marcus McKinnon goes by "Black Guy White Violin" to make it easier for people to look him up online. Photo by Alexis Miller
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Have you ever searched Google to find someone only based on their appearance or what they were doing? Violinist Marcus Mckinnon based his whole brand around that idea and now goes by “Black Guy White Violin.”

“After I began playing on the street, I thought it’s going to be weird for people to see a black guy playing a white violin, until I realized, it has a nice ring to it, and it’ll make it easier for people to find me and my music online," Mckinnon said. "So, I decided to state the obvious and call myself 'Black Guy White Violin.'"

Mckinnon plays from St. Augustine to Port Orange and in his hometown of Tampa when he goes back to visit family. Residents often see him playing around Palm Coast on the side of the street with a speaker and sign with information for tips and donations, as Mckinnon said he plans to go full time with his music. 

Ormond Beach resident Josie Fitzgerald often saw him on her way to work.

“I see him playing on the corner of Belle Terre Parkway and Palm Coast Parkway Southwest often when I’m driving around and his music is phenomenal,” Fitzgerald said. “I never thought I would hear popular songs from the radio on the violin and I love it.”

Mckinnon began playing the viola and trumpet at the age of 11, practicing daily in hopes of music being his career one day. In the summer of eighth grade, he was accepted to the performing arts program at Howard W. Blake High School in Tampa, where he played the trumpet.

Mckinnon visited Palm Coast a lot when he was younger to see his grandparents, and decided to move to the city in 2018. He was still working in Tampa International Airport at Burger King when he first moved to Palm Coast, and brought his viola to play in his free time. One day, he missed the bus to work, and decided to start playing at the bus stop. He played for hours and made money doing so, which gave him the idea to start playing on the street. He bought a violin, as it is similar to a viola, but smaller and easier to travel with. He then began playing on street corners daily, and eventually started booking gigs at private events and public festivals.

He recently performed at Palm Coast’s Springfest on March 2.

“I’m inspired by everything around me,” Mckinnon said. “There’s different bands, artists, and people in my life that inspire my music and inspire me to be a better person. Personally, that’s my grandparents and my parents; they prioritize love over everything which makes more sense to me in this world.”

Mckinnon comes from a long line of musicians, which has helped him grow and develop his own voice in the music world. His father, Jermane Mckinnon, is a DJ also known as DJ Money Mello and his grandmother, Beverly Mckinnon, was a singer and grew up with brothers who all played instruments.

Marcus Mckinnon plans to get into the production side of music and create his own independent recording studio. He'd also like to open a company to help upcoming artists find their own voice as musicians.

“If I created my own label, I would want people to have their own liberty and be their selves rather than being under the wing of a big corporation and not having any rights to their own music,” McKinnon said.

In the meantime, Black Guy White Violin will continue what he's best known for: playing on the street corners of Palm Coast, Ormond Beach, St. Augustine and Port Orange.

Marcus McKinnon began playing the violin in 2018 but started playing the viola at 11 years old. Photo by Alexis Miller


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