Founded in 2014, Brooklyn Duo has quickly established itself as one of today’s most successful classical crossover ensembles. Through its creative arrangements and live video performances, the piano and cello duo has garnered a huge following, with over 500,000 YouTube subscribers, and over 150 million streams annually on platforms such as Spotify and Pandora Radio.
Members Marnie and Patrick Laird met while attending the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival in Maine in 2006 and were married in 2012. Both worked as professional musicians after graduating from the Juilliard and Eastman schools of music, respectively; Patrick as a founding member of popular cello rock band, Break of Reality, and Marnie as principal pianist of the New World Symphony in Miami. In 2014, on a whim, the couple arranged and recorded two pop covers (Shakira’s “Empire” and John Legend’s “All of Me”) and released them on YouTube. Shakira noticed the duo’s cover of Empire and promoted it to her 130 million-plus fan base, saying: “We’re loving Brooklyn Duo’s piano/cello cover of #Empire! Great work guys.” The boost that resulted from that exposure and the positive response they were getting on YouTube encouraged the couple to continue creating videos. More on their website.
The original version of the song by Christina Aguilera and A Great Big World: