Miri Ben-Ari, a Grammy-winning violinist, originally from Israel, has
created her own unique sound – a revolutionary fusion of classical style
and jazz, R&B and hip hop. She is recognized as a musical pioneer. A
classically trained violinist who once studied under the legendary
Isaac Stern, Ben-Ari has helped sell millions of records by
collaborating with other Grammy-winning artists such as Kanye West, Jay
Z, Wyclef Jean, Alicia Keys, Wynton Marsalis, Britney Spears, Maroon 5,
Patti Labelle, Brandy, Donna Summer, Janet Jackson and John Legend. She
is also known as “The Hip Hop Violinist,” the title of her latest album
on Universal Records.
Known for her captivating show-stoppers,
Ben-Ari has wowed audiences around the world with performances such as
Aventura’s “Sold Out at Madison Square Garden” concert, VH1’s “Save the
Music” gala at Lincoln Center, “Fashion Rocks” at Radio City Music Hall,
Sesame Street, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign, Viacom’s
“Dream Concert” at Radio City Music Hall and the Martin Luther King Jr.
National Memorial dedication in Washington, DC. She was recently invited
by media icon Yue-Sai Kan to perform at the Miss Universe China Pageant
in Beijing, a live broadcast to millions of people.
Ben-Ari has also been the face of promotional campaigns for companies such as Reeboks, Vodafone, Pepsi and Coca-Cola.
a young role model, Ben-Ari has been received many international
accolades. She was honored as an Apollo Legend by the Apollo Theater in
New York City; she won the International Jewish Woman To Watch of 2007
Award; the 2008 Israel Film Festival Visionary Award; the American
Society for Yad Vashem Award; the Young & Powerful for Obama 2011
Rising Star Award; the Martin Luther King Award from Israeli President
Shimon Peres; and the 2012 Big Vision Award.
Her single “Symphony
of Brotherhood,” featuring the “I Have a Dream” speech by Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr., was the first instrumental single ever to hit
Billboard’s R&B/Hip Hop charts, MTV and VH1.
She was recently appointed Goodwill Ambassador of Music at the United Nations Association-Brazil. Describe a typical day in your life.
is no such a thing as a ‘typical day’ in my life. My shows and events
are so different from each other. I do try to maintain a daily routine
with physical activity and a healthy diet. I start my day with a cup of
mocha latte.What is the most important thing in your life?
To be happy.
When did the idea come to you to combine the violin and pop music?
first tour in the US was with an orchestra backing R&B legend
Luther Vandross. We performed in every major amphitheater in the US. I
watched him from the strings section every night and thought to myself
how perfect he sounded and how much fun it must be to perform for all
I was playing jazz at the time and felt that there
must be a way of playing the violin where the violin becomes the leading
voice instead of just being a part of the orchestra.What is the inspiration for your music?
Whatever moves me and touches my soul -- stories, movies, good music and good people.What are you most excited about in your job?
love creating the possibility of using my instrument as a voice to
carry a message bigger than myself. For example, in my song “Symphony of
Brotherhood” I feature Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with the timeless “I
Have a Dream” speech, where my music is the soundtrack to his message
feel humbled and a little nervous every time I get to perform this
piece. It’s like I have the responsibility to promote such a big
message. I was privileged to perform this song at some very important
events: at the White House for the First Lady Michael Obama; at the
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial dedication in Washington, DC; and this
year for President Barack Obama.
Because of the fact that my
family survived the Holocaust, I support the fight against racism with
my music and also with my nonprofit organization Gedenk.What is the most memorable thing that has happened in your work?
cannot single out one particular event, there are so many of them. To
name a few: working with so many incredible artists such as Kanye West
and Jay Z; winning a Grammy; performing at the White House; performing
for and meeting President Obama; and speaking at the UN.What was it like to be invited to the White House?
2011 I was invited by First Lady Michelle Obama to the White House for a
special performance and to be honored as a ‘Remarkable Woman.’ In 2012 I
was invited to perform for President Obama.What kind of volunteer work do you do?
love to give back to the community. I support various charitable
organizations such as UNICEF, FIBA (Fellowship of Israel and Black
America), Phoenix House, NRB Convention and Aglow, the Jewish
Federation, Russell Simmons’s philanthropic arts foundation and the
Emery Awards. I am the founder and chairman of Gedenk (“Remember” in
Yiddish), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting awareness
and education among youth about the Holocaust.
What or who are your style icons or muses?
I respect and love many designers and artists, but I don’t have ‘style icons.’ What is your personal style?
Fresh, classy with a smile. My personal style changes as I evolve as an artist and a person.
I love to create new sounds and concepts.
my new song and video “Dim the Lights,” I created a “new Miri,” who is
very stylish, fashionable and fun. I used a subtle sense of humor and
the phrase “Dim the lights” to eliminate awkward and funny situations
that I find myself in. I play a long ‘solo’ in the middle of this song.
You don’t hear long instrumental solos in commercial music anymore, and I
wasn’t afraid to break that format. This is me.In your personal life, do you prefer a natural look or a glamorous one?
like both. I grew up in Israel wearing jeans and T-shirts most of my
childhood. Throughout my career I got very involved with the fashion
world, working with amazing stylists and designers such as Zac Posen and
even performed at Miss Universe. I believe that style and fashion can
transform an artist.
What is your secret for maintaining your look?
activity and a healthy diet. There’s no secret. We all know what we
gotta do. The challenge is to have the willpower to do so.What are the things you never travel without?
How do feel about the social media?
Internet has changed all of us. It has made the world smaller, where
everyone can reach everyone. I love to read the comments on my Facebook
page and Twitter. I recently had a very successful live Q&A campaign
with formspring.com, where fans asked me questions during a live
session about my music and life. It was so much fun!
What else do you want to achieve?
Doing more things that are outside the box and being involved in more projects and campaigns to make the world a better place.