Damien Escobar
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Damien Escobar

New York City, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Solo Hip Hop Classical

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"Meet Damien Escobar, the Hip Hop Violinist"

Out of a Queens's window amongst the sounds of sirens, city bustle and the usual New York grind imagine hearing the carefully constructed melodies of Beethoven's 5th symphony. A young Damien Escobar sat listening to his brother and cousin practice, too young to touch his playmates new school issued instruments forced an anxious little prodigy to sit on the sidelines. Once Escobar enrolled in music it was only a matter of time that he would meet his instrumental fate with a simple bow and strings. His natural ability to impress a crowd led him to unique opportunities and front row on his journey to self discovery. With a successful and packed timeline, Escobar shares his passion with me in a personal interview in a popular Manhattan lounge. A train away from where his desire to play the violin began, he unveils new global projects and his triumphant attempt to give back.

Coined the "Hip Hop Violinist," Escobar revealed he hadn't discovered hip hop till his pre-teen years. DMX's rugged tone and signature barking initiated frenzy in this musical genius and constructed the initial union in Escobar's tone. Blending his Julliard classically trained skills with popular urban sounds, Escobar and his brother introduced subway commuters to a destined star. Riding the train while serenading passengers exposed him to a lucrative business by the age of 10 and embraced his natural talent in the inner city tunnels. Even as the youngest student accepted into Julliard, Escobar's temptation to fit in caused a teenage abandonment of his sweet notes in exchange for acceptance with peers. Out of place and lost for hope, adolescent years taught him no matter where your path guides you...destiny will find you. Reunited with his violin, an estranged Escobar prioritized his life and set out on a mission revisiting his stage in the underground. From the subway to primetime, focused Escobar managed to follow a lit path that opened on the stage of America's Got Talent with millions of viewers captivated by his new sound. Sweeping two Emmys, television debuts, endorsements and heavy involvement in popular movie scores, Damien Escobar knew he finally made it to the top.

2012

Soon after the lights on stage powered down, this story dips into uncharted territories filled with life lessons and humbling beginnings. Losing fame and notoriety can happen with one wrong move and choices have to be made to rise afloat. Finding himself on a service line, pleading for extensions and payment plans in 2012, Escobar had enough. "I needed to find myself again" and headed back to the Jamaica Queen's apartment where Beethoven bit Damien in his most influential years. "I needed to teach myself everything about this business. I've spent years trying to make other people happy but now it was time to find Damien." With mom in his corner helping plant his feet in the ground, Escobar decided once again to steer from music and tapped into the Real estate market. Proudly dialing friends from his desk, Escobar remembers a close friend storming into the office and demanding him to redirect that energy back into the four strings that helped title him one of the world's best violinist. Reminding him that he was a musician foolishly imitating something he clearly wasn't, Damien's friend put him back on track. A second chance at fame came as fast as he left that office, leading him to a new team and new vision.

Escobar's Timeline to success begins

Finding himself questioning his next move, Escobar decided to fly to France and try his luck on a popular syndicated talent show. His first performance with all eyes on him was set on the "Taratata" stage and launched his solo career. Once exiting the stage, Escobar remembers telling friends "I wanted more". November tweets of Escobar on World Star boosts confidence that led to a December performance at the Indy Car 2012 Championship Awards Banquet. Performing solo was his validation that the same violin that saved him from city streets was going to pay the service bills he once struggled to afford. Redefining his image and sound, a new artist emerged hitting fans with something they knew was now essential. Escobar wrapped up the year accepting an invitation to perform at Russell Simmon's Hip Hop Inaugural Ball. Challenging him more than ever, Escobar launched a "quick" college tour introducing his "I AM ME" campaign. Two weeks and ten schools, Damien knew to win this crowd he had to go back and "bring out the crates!" The buzz affect the students created about his new sound thrilled executives at the Top Chef headquarters. Next on his list was the 2013 Food & Wine event in New York City. Escobar states, "He finally found happiness and was spiritually free."

Escobar's album "I AM ME" releases his inner desire to reconnect with fans and spread the initial love he had for music. A main concern of Escobar's was creating an opportunity to give back to the community that initiated his love with music. Solely through social media, Escobar managed to host an event raking in over fifty thousand dollars for the Jamaica YMCA benefiting over 600 kids. This being a top priority for native New Yorker, "It's not normal for kids to be in the streets and dodge bullets." Damien shakes his head after reviewing the statistics of crime rates in his hometown. Sitting on the Board of Directors at the Y and armed with a new team, he proudly presents his management as the people who saw his young talent in those same city streets and stuck with him to see out his success. Amongst his power team is Anne Edmond of the elite PR firm CRAFT Agency. Anne is prepared to help launch this legend in the making and keep him in the spotlight he deserves. Armed with a solid team and concrete foundation, Escobar is projecting next year as his best ever. Setting forward he plans to continue on this same path except now he can depend less on yesterday and creatively play into tomorrow as himself. I asked Escobar where he envisions himself in a year and with an intense smile and confident disposition he says, "I see myself in the Top 40's hitting the mainstream market and giving the violin the platform it deserves. I want to be to music what Michael Jordan was to basketball." Nudging double legendary Michael's, Escobar credits a lot of his musical influence to Michael Jackson. We laughed as he mentions his future legendary status, possibly influencing a young musician today. With an open heart and passionate about his gift, I ask Escobar what he expects people to associate his name with once topping charts, he quickly responded in a confident tone, "A violin. I will be the next Damien "Jackson."

Follow Damien Escobar on all sources of media:
Twitter www.twitter.com/dameesco
Facebook www.facebook.com/dameesco
Instagram at www.instagram.com/dameesco - Huffington Post


"A-Sides with Jon Chattman: Damien Escobar 'Fires' Up Some Adele; Arcade Fire Top Delve Into Twelve"

In 1988, dance-pop group Will to Power hit the clubs and the charts with their catchy tracks. One song in particular, "Say It's Gonna Rain," had me dancing in my sweet Z Cavariccis. Why do I bring this up? As a terrible segue into another precipitation-metaphor song of course. Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain" has been played so many times it's hard to believe hearing a cover song would make you forget about the original, but that's exactly what Damien "Dame" Escobar did when he played the hit on his violin during an A-Sides session earlier this month. Filmed at the Music Conservatory of Westchester in White Plains, NY, Escobar along with two band members slayed the famous Adele track. Afterwords, Escobar opened up about his solo career, and the album - I Am Me - he's currently working on.

Like, say I don't know Will to Power perhaps (tsk tsk), Escobar is no stranger to killing it musically."Dame" was accepted into Julliard at just nine years old, and recently collaborated with his brother Tourie as part of the violin duo Nuttin' But Stringz. The pair picked up a pair (see what I did there?) of Emmy's, sold a million albums, and placed third on America's Got Talent, but Escobar is focusing on his solo work as of late. Watch the Jamaica, Queens native perform and chat below, and keep your eyes and ears pealed for his new album and tour. Oh, and before we begin, I should mention Escobar has a foundation called Violins Against Violence, serves on the board of the Jamaica Queens YMCA, and is involved in numerous charities. In other words, he's not just a talented musician, he's a good dude. Watch. Listen. Love. - Huffington Post


"Damien Escobar Honors 16-Year-Old PEOPLE Hero"

Back in September, readers were moved by the story of 16-year-old Kennedy Hubbard and the work she does to help other children with Lymphatic Malformation, a potentially fatal condition which features fluid-filled cysts that distend her face and have threatened her airway ever since she was born.

But when hip-hop violinist Damien Escobar read Hubbard's story – how the high school junior mentors other children with LM and raises money to help less fortunate sufferers afford treatment and for LM research – the two-time Emmy winner did more than click "Like."

He picked up the phone and asked, "How can I help?"

What Escobar didn't know at first was that Hubbard, of Moorestown, N.J., plays the violin herself. The pair teamed up at Hubbard's Kennedy's Cause fundraiser on Dec. 6 for a very emotional duet of "Mirrors," by her favorite artist, Justin Timberlake.

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"It's tough for us to look in the mirror and accept who we have staring back. I went through it growing up," Escobar tells PEOPLE. "Kennedy's so courageous, how she deals with being unique, being different. I just wanted to help. And when she told me the song she wanted to do, I was like, This is perfect!" - People Magazine


"Damien Escobar's sweet sounds of success"

Violin virtuoso Damien Escobar takes the stage at Toshi's Living Room in the Flatiron District looking out to an audience that loves him. As he performs intricate covers of R&B songs by Alicia Keys, Genuwine and Chaka Khan on his instrument, the audience claps, sings along and cheers in amazement. The performance is one of many Escobar does as he continues his path back to music and rediscovery.

Opening the door to the concept of hip hop violin, Escobar is back on the music scene, this time, as a solo act. You may remember him as half of the duo Nuttin' But Stringz headlining with his older brother.

Nearly six years ago, the Jamaica, Queens native was at the height of his musical career with his brother Tourie. The two were known around the world for their gifted violin skills that landed them a spot on the TV show “America's Got Talent” and even a performance for former President George W. Bush at the White House.

Now at age 27, he's split from his brother citing creative difference and also went through several personal life experiences. All of this has led him back to making a name for himself in the music world with his unique talent.

Escobar got his start with his brother at age 7 performing in the subway and eventually got into the Julliard School at age 10. The two garnered appearances on “Showtime at the Apollo,” “The Tonight Show” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” However, it was their appearance on “America's Got Talent” that put them into orbit.

“Being on there opened so many doors for us,” he said. “After that, we performed in Dubai, on 'Dancing with the Stars' and got endorsements from McDonalds. We saw the world and did everything an artist would do without having a number one record.”

The brothers split in 2012 and Escobar stopped performing. His once lavish lifestyle ended and he was left broke moving back in with his mother in Queens. Hitting rock bottom, he had to seek social services in an effort to support his growing family and also battled with depression.

At the same time he was scared of performing again due to the fact he never did without his brother. Escobar stepped away from music completely and was relieved from the pressure from the industry.

“Going back to the 'hood was the greatest thing and knowing who I am and what I came from. When I started in the industry I was 17. Being in the music business, the public became my friend,” he said.

Moving forward with his life after the music industry, he became a successful licensed real estate agent. However, after several months, a friend told him he belonged in music and not behind a desk. Soon after he flew to France to play the violin for the first time in nearly a year for a TV show. The gig was turning point for him to start performing again.

“I quit my job and was thinking on the plane ride back that I wanted to get back into music,” he said. “But this time, I wanted to target the mainstream audience.”

He decided reintroduce himself online getting a video of himself posted on worldstarhiphop.com playing a medley of R&B songs on the violin. The video received over 200,000 hits in 24 hours going viral on social media.

People started reaching out to him from Trey Songz to Russell Simmons who asked him to perform at the 2012 Hip Hop Inaugural Ball. This year, he did a college tour and several corporate show performances.

Escobar released his debut solo mixtape of R&B covers titled “Sensual Melodies," which has received 85,000 downloads so far. In September he's releasing a single titled “Freedom” as an independent artist with a predicted album release in 2014.

“This is the freest I've ever been in my life,” he said. “I just hope people like it and keep propelling me.” - Amsterdam News


"Hip-hop violinist Damien Escobar stops by to talk arts in schools"

You might remember him from “America’s Got Talent.”

You might remember him from performances on “Oprah.”

Or if you have children who watched “Jack’s Big Music Show” (raising hand over here), you might remember his crazy-talented hip-hop violin duet with his brother when they played together as Nuttin’ But Stringz.

Today, Damien Escobar, 28, is a more thoughtful, softer version of that protégé who thundered onto the music scene as a teen-ager.

Escobar and his brother no longer play together — a breakup that triggered a financial and emotional meltdown in 2012. Escobar went from living in a million-dollar house to sleeping in his mom’s basement in Jamaica, Queens. Months passed. He didn’t touch his violin. Instead, he got a job selling real estate until one day when a friend suggested his internal GPS had gone haywire. He didn’t belong behind a desk.

“God is going to reroute you,” his friend said.

It happened. He picked up his violin one day, inspired by Alicia Keys “Un-Thinkable.” He never put it down.

After refocusing on his music and assembling a management team, Escobar is back on track — a more spiritual, humble, grateful one.

His “I Am Me” tour stops at the University of Illinois, Champaign, on Friday night. This fall, he’ll be visiting 20 New York City public schools in a two-week timeframe to inspire kids and encourage arts in education. Chicago Public Schools, many of which have no music offerings, are on his list for a tour as well.

“Most of these kids probably never get to go to a concert, so I’m bringing the concert to them,” he said while visiting the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday.

Escobar also started a nonprofit organization called “I Am Me” to help fund music instruction at public schools.

You can learn more about him and his tour at his Web site, www.dameesco.com. - Chicago Tribune


"BE Modern Man: Meet Emmy Award-Winning Violinist Damien Escobar"

Name: Damien Escobar

Profession: Violinist

Age: 28

One Word That Describes You: Consistent

Two-time Emmy award-winning violinist Damien Escobar sits at the intersection of hip-hop and classical music. His musical gift transcends race, gender, age and culture. His classic yet edgy style comes complete with an unstoppable swagger, that has helped propel his career from playing the violin in NYC subways to performing for President Barack Obama, Former President George W. Bush, the royal family of Dubai, Oprah Winfrey and many more.

Escobar, a musical prodigy, graduated from Juilliard at 13 years old. He’s known for renditions of Jay Z’s ‘Holy Grail,’ Michael Jackson’s ‘P.Y.T (Pretty Young Thing)’, The Isley Brothers ‘Between the Sheets,’ and he’s even collaborated with the legendary Stevie Wonder. “Being classically trained is important because you need the basics. My classical training helped me take hip-hop and other genres of music to another level by structuring it like a classical song. This has helped set me apart from every violinist that has ever come into the industry,” said Escobar during an exclusive interview with BE Modern Man.

In 2003, Escobar first hit the music scene with his brother Tourie as part of the duo, Nuttin’ But Stringz. But after a 10-year epic journey as crossover violinists, they began to clash musically and parted ways. “I honestly looked in the mirror and didn’t know who I was anymore. The industry made me jaded. So I left the industry, and went into real estate.” Then one-day a friend came into the real estate office and shared some wise words about purpose that reignited his love for music. “I have children and I realized that they are watching my every move. I want them to look at me and see purpose. I want them to see a man that didn’t give up. So I embarked on this journey of rediscovering who I am.” Escobar immediately left the corporate world, picked up his beloved violin and never looked back.

For all of his accomplishments and notoriety—the Jamaica, Queens, NY native still finds the time to give back to the community. “It’s one thing to talk about your impact in the community but its another thing to be impactful within the community. Everybody who knows me knows that giving back to youth is my highest priority. I’m a board member of the Jamaica, Queens YMCA. Every year we do a charity concert, where I raise money to send kids to camp for free. Last year we raised about $60,000 to send 1,000 kids to camp. This year we’re taking it to another level by doing a concert featuring Chrisette Michele and Dru Hill, on October 9th at Resort World Casino.”

Another important thing to know about Escobar: He’s on a mission to change the conversation about mainstream music. “I’m not concerned about being the number one violinist in the world. I’ve been told that for many years. I’m not going to stop until you say Stevie Wonder and Damien in the same sentence or Damien Escobar and Drake in the same sentence. That’s when I’ll take a break.”

“Music programs are non-existent in schools. My non-profit, “I am Me,” puts music programs back into schools. So this Fall, I am kicking off an initiative with 20 NYC public schools. I’ll turn high school and middle school auditoriums into Madison Square Garden, I’ll do a concert, and I’ll bring basketball players from the Knicks and Nets, so that we can empower kids to embrace their unique self.”

While many of us are drowning in social media distractions, Escobar offers some powerful insight and words of advice. “Social media has everybody showing up looking like the next person, without fully understanding that nobody puts their imperfections on social media. So ultimately, we’re striving for a sense of falsification. I want to empower kids to embrace who they are. When you set out on a mission, or have something that you want to accomplish. You have to just do it, and put your blinders on, just like horses on the racetrack who can’t see what’s going on to the left or right of them.”

Not one to shy away from the hustle and the streets that gave him his first dollar for his talent, Escobar periodically takes his performances back to the streets with impromptu concerts throughout New York City.

The BE Modern Man team salutes Damien Escobar for his remarkable talent. We thank you for helping young men and women to see the world beyond their immediate surroundings, and embrace their individuality.

It’s our normal to be extraordinary. Follow @blackenterprise and join the BE Modern Man conversation using #BEModernMan. - Black Enterprise Magazine


Discography

Damien Escobar - Freedom (2014)

Damien Escobar - All of Me (2014)

Damien Escobar - Sensual Melodies (2013)

Nuttin But Stringz - Struggle From The Subway To The Charts (2006)

Photos

Bio

“Whatever you want to do, do it now. There are only so many tomorrows.”

– Michael Landon

Those tomorrows seemed quite bleak at one point for Damien Escobar. After coming in third place on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, winning two Emmy’s, traveling the world and much more as part of the group Nuttin But Stringz, Damien had to begin his journey from scratch after an unceremonious split from his longtime partner and brother. Having created such an instrumental brand that helped to transform the way in which classical music was interpreted by millions, this transitional time period would have been the end for many an artist, but it was at this point that Damien made the pivotal decision to recreate his brand as a solo artist.


The newly invented “Damien Escobar Experience” was not without its pitfalls but Damien persevered and with the hard work and determination that Damien has always possessed since his days playing violin on the New York City subways, his solo musical endeavor began to move at a quickening pace and with time Damien was back at the height of his musical influence. Today looking back, Damien can see the fruits of his labor as he now boasts a magnitude of accomplishments including a 40 city college tour executed in the spring of 2015; the release of his critically acclaimed album ‘Sensual Melodies’ which boasts an impressive 200K downloads; an iTunes chart topping single, “Freedom” and has more than a few notable solo headliner performances under his belt including: Oprah Winfrey’s The Life You Want Tour, Revolt TV’s Global SPIN Awards,  CBS Upfront Presentation, Food & Wine Magazine’s Best New Chef Awards, Indy Car Championship Awards, Major League Baseball MVP honors Gala, Angela Simmons "Electric Daze" Fashion Show, Russell Simmons’ Hip Hop Inaugural Ball, Governor Tom Wolf’s Inaugural Ball, and corporate concerts for FRIDAYS, Walmart, Target, and more. These accomplishments are only rivaled by corporate partnerships with various brands including a multi-market activation with Cricket Wireless and a commercial with Sony Action Cam.

Corporate brands weren’t the only ones taking notice, as Damien was able to secure a plethora of major media features including appearances on Good Day DC, NBC NY, Lifetime Home & Family, Latina TV, The Chicago Tribune, Huffington post, CNN, PEOPLE Magazine, WETV’s “David Tutera’s: Unveiled”, WBLS and many more opportunities that helped to solidify Damien’s presence in 2015.


“Boundless” is more than just the title of Damien’s next studio album, but it is also representative of the height of Damien’s dreams and goals. With boundless expectations for himself and a vision that is limitless, the violin crooner is primed for success and is committed to living out his destiny - on his own terms.

Band Members