Damien Escobar is an American violinist/songwriter who, alongside his older brother Tourie Escobar, carved a path into the music industry by blending classical violin with hip-hop, jazz, and more in the duo Nuttin' But Stringz. He went on to release similarly genre-melding music under his own name beginning in the mid-2010s.
Born in Jamaica, Queens, New York City, Escobar began studying the violin at the age of seven. At the age of ten, he became the youngest student ever to be accepted at the Julliard School, where he took classes on weekends. Along with his brother, he later studied at the Bloomingdale School of Music in Manhattan. Still teenagers, the Escobars got a manager and began playing small gigs around the city in 2003. Calling themselves Nuttin' But Stringz, their attention-grabbing prowess and fusion of classical, hip-hop, R&B, pop, and jazz quickly grew their reputation. They won a talent night at the Apollo Theater in 2005, and in the summer of 2016, they were featured on screen in the Channing Tatum dance film Step Up. That fall, they released their debut LP, Struggle from the Subway to the Charts, with Koch Records. A single from the album, "Thunder," was featured on CBS' NCAA basketball tournament coverage as well as on an episode of the NBC drama The Black Donnellys, in 2007. That same year, they performed at the White House for an audience that included President George W. Bush as part of a Black Music Month celebration. Having by then already performed as guests on numerous late-night and morning talk shows, including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Nuttin' But Stringz competed on the third season of NBC's America's Got Talent in 2008. They finished in the Top Three. The following year, the duo performed at the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
The brothers stopped performing as Nuttin' But Stringz in 2012, the year Damien Escobar made his debut as a solo artist on the French music show Taratata. He began touring under his own name in 2013 and released his solo debut, Sensual Melodies, in 2014. That year he also published a children's book inspired by his own youth called The Sound of Strings. His single "Freedom" appeared on streaming charts in 2015, and "Get Up and Dance" followed in late 2016 with a refined mix of Latin rhythms, funk, and soulful violin. ~ Marcy Donelson