My Violin Weighs A Ton: Hip Hop Orchestra

GoFundMe Introduction Video by Mental Health Advocate/Hip-Hop Artist, Archie Green

"My Violin Weighs A Ton: Documentary" Trailer

About "My Violin Weighs A Ton"

"My Violin Weighs A Ton" (MVWAT) is the realization of a unique vision that Hip-Hop Artist and Mental Health Advocate, Archie Green crafted and is bringing to life in order to engage, educate, and inspire a new generation.

Archie has been a Hip-Hop Artist for over twenty years, and in that time span he's also become a fan of classical music, having played musical instruments in high school, and attended various concerts at the world-renowned Severance Hall in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.

Archie also understands the power of music, and how it can be used to overcome obstacles, deal with painful experiences, and even help individuals cope with mental illness.  The students participating in this project are a part of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, which according to a 2017 CDC study  are leading the nation in Suicide rates (2 in every 10 high schoolers having attempted suicide in 2015).

In January of 2019,  Archie and his Mental Health Advocacy group, Peel Dem Layers Back  (PDLB), was granted the opportunity to bring MVWAT to life.  For the four-month- long performance project, Archie and PDLB have partnered with Lexington-Bell Community Center  (LBCC), an urban youth educational center located in the historic Cleveland neighborhood of Hough. MVWAT is an interactive experience that will allow the students at the Lexington-Bell Community Center to create and perform hip-hop with a classical twist.

Preschoolers at Lexington-Bell Community Center  

About The Title
The name My Violin Weighs A Ton is a tribute to "My Vinyl Weighs A Ton" an influential hip-hop record by DJ Peanut Butter Wolf released in 1999 on Stones Throw Records.  At the time of its release, rock critic John Bush commented, "My Vinyl Weighs a Ton boasts deep beats and choice samples, all of them working brilliantly together.”  The title is meant to evoke the sentiment that in this project there will be an intersection of hip-hop and classical music.

Three Areas of Growth
The children participating in MVWAT are between 5-12 years old. Each phase of the program will focus on three areas of growth for the youth participants:

1. Acts of Kindness
 During the program, students will be learning about, and doing, acts of kindness through special workshops and exercises (such as Car Window Poetry), musical instruction (with The Cleveland Classical Guitar Society), and field trips (to Severance Hall and moCa Cleveland)

2. Parental Engagement
MVWAT will involve the entire family. As students learn how to play classical instruments and write original rap lyrics and poetry, they will be sharing these experiences with their parents. At the end of the project, the students will produce and perform in a special recital that will be attended by their family members.

3. Social Anxiety
In efforts to relieve the stresses that youth faces due to social media and peer pressure to be perfect, students will be encouraged to tap into their abundant wells of creativity without limits or judgement—and with the assurance that the most beautiful works of art are often the result of beautiful accidents.

Creative Writing Workshops

The students will learn, practice, and develop their songwriting and lyrical prowess.  They will attend creative workshops—giving them the basics behind hip-hop and classical music, and helping them see how to use songwriting as a form of creative expression. 

Cleveland Classical Guitar Instructor gives lesson to students

Classical Guitar Lessons
The students will be taking guitar and piano lessons from the Cleveland Classical Guitar Society (CCGS).  The students will be immersed in the process by creating their own original songs, along with learning traditional hip-hop covers. The songs will have a blend of both hip-hop's touches on lyricism and performance, along with the elements of frisson (or musical chills) from the accompaniment of classical instruments. 

Nas performs with National Symphony Orchestra at Kennedy Center

Culminating Special Concert at a Historic Venue
Inspired by the likes of Nas, Kanye West  and Jay-Z—each of whom has performed with orchestras at iconic venues—, MVWAT will culminate with a concert in which these young people will perform in front of family, friends, and music lovers at a chamber music hall.  The students will work through dress rehearsals and final preparations for the main event. Archie will also present a special performance of his new hip-hop/classical project, I Like To Be Wierd, accompanied by a six-piece ensemble.

 Where the Children Will Perform: The Reinberger Chamber Hall at Severance Hall

In order to provide this magnificent, life-changing experience for our students and attendees, we are asking for financial support from the wider community. It is the goal of MVWAT to end with a culminating concert at the iconic, historic Severance Hall, located in Cleveland’s University Circle neighborhood.  

Your contributions will help cover the cost of the following:

 -Instructors providing musical lessons to the students 

-Production of a short film documenting the students’ experience throughout the project; 

-Renting the final performance venue, hiring staff including front of house, engineers, instrument rental

-Compensation for the six musicians and composer working with Archie for the final performance of “I Like To Be Wierd” 

-Rental of formal clothing for the student performers

-Free attendance for family and friends at the culminating concert  


MVWAT is a breakthrough project, a bridge spanning multiple concepts and communities. It aims to open doors and make new links, connecting....

—inner-city kids to exciting but unfamiliar forms of music;

—students to their own untapped creativity;

— the wider African American community and the classical world... in Cleveland and beyond 

Please join us in supporting this unique, potentially life-changing project.

Thank you for your support, time and consideration!!

About Peel Dem Layers Back
Peel Dem Layers Back was founded by Hip-Hop artist and Mental Health Advocate, Archie Green in November of 2016.  PDLB which Archie is turning into a nonprofit organization, blossomed from the inspiration of Archie's song "Layers," which he wrote shortly after being clinically diagnosed with depression.  "Layers" gives Archie's perspective on living with depression, and how therapy and mental health has saved and changed his life.  The song which premiered at VICE garnered over 25,000 streams in its first two weeks, which motivated Archie to use hip-hop as a vehicle to promote mental health awareness.

The mission of Peel Dem Layers Back is to educate, empower and equip individuals with basic tools necessary to live a mentally healthy life.  This is done while using the culture of Hip-Hop as a vehicle to create a safe space for predominantly black and brown communities to publicly share personal testimonies.  Programs consist of mental health workshops, open forums and live performances. The overall goal of Peel Dem Layers Back is to bring awareness of mental health to black and brown communities in efforts to normalize treatment and break the stigma.

About Archie Green
Dream Chaser. MC. Creator Extraordinaire. Cleveland, Ohio rapper Archie Green is a dream believer. But more than that, he’s a “dream, then wake up and go-getter.” Green’s pen game is twenty years strong, coupled with a business acumen he picked up while attending Morehouse College and eventually NYU Steinhardt for Music Business.

Archie is also an advocate for mental health, having himself been diagnosed with clinical depression. His introspective single, "Layers," which premiered at VICE , garnered over 25,000 streams in 2 weeks. The 34 year old artist has begun to host more dialogues on mental illness with Peel Dem Layers Back, a Hip-Hop centered workshop to promote mental health awareness. Archie has been featured on various other local, national and international media outlets including BBC News,  Marbles Magazine , WKYC Channel 3, WCPN Ideastream,, and Cleveland Scene. His most recent noteworthy accomplishment is being selected as one of Cleveland Magazine's 2018 Most Interesting People. His most recent project, The Black Pharaoh EP,  is available on all streaming platforms.
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Archie L. Green 
Cleveland, OH