McGriff twins lead double lives as musicians and social advocates

The sophomore duo specializes in violence prevention and contemporary hip-hop -- with a twist

You’ve probably heard David Guetta’s “Titanium,” Calvin Harris’ “I Feel So Close to You Right Now,” and Usher’s “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love Again” about a million times on the radio and at parties.  But have you heard the violin and cello versions?

If not, hit up sophomores Eric and Anthony McGriff. 

Twins, the two originally took up their instruments in fourth grade, with Eric playing the violin while Anthony tackled the cello. 

I don’t think people today appreciate real instruments as much as they used to. It’s all about, ‘What can I make electronically?’
Anthony McGriff

“It wasn’t until we turned 16 that we actually started doing our own thing separately from what the school was doing,” Anthony said.

Today, the North Syracuse-natives perform as a string duet, often covering contemporary hip-hop songs on their classical instruments.  As the word has spread about this talented duo, they started picking up paying gigs.

“We’ve played so many weddings for professors and faculty here at the university and in the Syracuse community,” Eric said. “Wedding season is pretty hectic.”

So hectic, in fact, that the twins sometimes score five performances in one week.

Despite musical passion and talent, though, neither currently plans to pursue a career in music.

 “Right before we came into college, the Syracuse Symphony was shut down because they weren’t generating enough money,” Anthony said, “I don’t think people today appreciate real instruments as much as they used to.  It’s all about, ‘What can I make electronically?’”

Although Eric conceded that the two have adapted to the pop trend by putting a twist on modern songs, he can’t imagine making enough money from performances to constitute a stable, steady job. 

Eric and Anthony harbor another major passion though.  Both Political Science majors (Eric doubles in Women and Gender Studies), the two can be seen advocating for social justice all over Syracuse, work they find more fulfilling even than music.

The twins started working with battered women and children in high school, and experience that led them to run their own violence prevention camp for children today. Both are also members of three different Advocacy Center groups on campus: Mentors in Violence Prevention, Sex Esteem, and A Men’s Issue. Eric says they try to ignore social norms by rethinking the meanings of masculinity and femininity.

Despite spending so much time together through their performances and advocacy, the two insist they’re very different. 

“Outside of music and our work with the advocacy center, we have completely different interests,” Anthony said. 

Different personalities, but still almost the same face.  The two deal with identification errors regularly, and Anthony said he’s even gotten punched a few times while being mistaken for his brother.

“I don’t think there’s a day that goes by on campus where I don’t get called Eric,” he said. 

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