Update

The event will be livestreamed for you to watch at home.

Damien Escobar said he had a confusing childhood.

At 8, he picked up a violin during a required elementary school music class. He's been hooked on classical music ever since. By 9, he was playing Mozart. By 10, he was enrolled at The Juilliard School.

But as a kid growing up in South Jamaica, Queens, N.Y.-- a neighborhood that produced 50 Cent and Nicki Minaj -- hip-hop was a way of life. When he was 13, he heard rapper DMX for the first time and was blown away.

"I felt like I lived a double life," Escobar said during a recent phone interview. "It worked out (for me) as an adult. There is a melody in hip-hop music, too. It's similar to classical music that way."

His diverse music influences left little room for rock. But Escobar said he's looking forward to meeting York natives and members of the band Live Thursday, Feb. 28. He is slated to take the stage during an event hosted by Live's development company, Think Loud, at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center.

Escobar first met Think Loud CEO Bill Hynes at an IndyCar championship. Hynes helped set up Thursday's event, which will also feature racing stars Michael and Marco Andretti.

No matter what happens on stage, Escobar said, he'll be prepared. Busking in the New York City subway system as a teen helped him adapt to any audience.

"I come from a single-parent home," Escobar said. "It was me and my brother. It was crazy. We've both been arrested for performing. We've been taunted (and) almost robbed. There is no adversity that I cannot face."

That was the beginning of the duo Nuttin' But Stringz, which included Escobar and his older brother, Tourie. The group, which fused classical and hip-hop styles, gained attention after winning a talent contest at the Apollo Theater in 2005. TV appearances and platinum-selling albums followed. Escobar said the TV reality show "America's Got Talent" also came calling.

At first, he said they didn't want to do the show. But then they realized that even if they got on one episode, it would help spread their music to the masses. In 2008, the group landed in third place in the competition.

The 19-hour days were hard, Escobar said, but he'd do it again without hesitation. The group was introduced to 27 million viewers each week and a worldwide audience.

After almost a decade of making music together, the brothers recently decided to go separate ways. Escobar said he stopped performing. After spending most of his childhood in a competitive music school and performing as a duo, he needed to figure out who he was.

"I don't think I could go on stage without him," he said of his brother.

Escobar went back to school and got his real-estate license and a 9-to-5 job. But he figured out that wasn't for him.

"It gave me the confidence that I needed to say that I am a musician," Escobar added. He spent a year planning his next move.

Right now, he is planning to release a solo album, "I Am Me" and go on a supporting tour. "It's about me knowing and rededicating myself to me," he said. Escobar added that it will feature an uplifting mix of classical, hip-hop and R&B style. That's also what he plans to play Thursday in York with his string quartet.

"We're going to be doing popular music and records from my album," he said. "I'm cementing myself as a solo artist."

@FlipSidePA; 771-2051

More

Damien Escobar: www.dameesco.com

Think Loud: www.facebook.com/thinkloudPA

FlipSide's Live band page: www.flipsidepa.com/live

Get updates from Thursday's event: twitter.com/flipsidepa

If you go

Think Loud Development is bringing racecar divers Michael and Marco Andretti to York for a free meet-and-greet with fans. Meet the racing stars, Emmy Award-winning violinist Damien Escobar and members of the York-native rock band Live 4 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, 50 N. George St., York.

Think Loud is run by three founding members of Live, Chad Taylor, Patrick Dahlheimer and Chad Gracey. It is renovating the Bi-Comp building in York to use as an office space and studio. The Feb. 28 event is open to the public and will feature autograph sessions and giveaways. A private event will follow to announce the launch of a new technology-based company the could bring 70 to 100 jobs to York.