An African beat from violinist Miri Ben-Ari

Ben-Ari, who likes to work in all genres of music, is currently exploring African sounds.

MIRI BEN-ARI and Young D: "I’m obsessed with African music, I love it." August 2020 (photo credit: COLLETTE BONAPARTE)
MIRI BEN-ARI and Young D: "I’m obsessed with African music, I love it." August 2020
(photo credit: COLLETTE BONAPARTE)
Miri Ben-Ari, aka “the hip-hop violinist,” has faced challenging times recently, like so many performers who can no longer give concerts since the start of the coronavirus crisis. But this classically trained Israeli musician, currently based in New Jersey, has found a silver lining.
It’s given her time to work on and promote her latest venture, Afrostringz, a collaboration with a renowned Nigerian producer, Young D. Ben-Ari and Young D recently released a very topical single, “Corona Be Gone,” as part of the Afrostringz project.
A violinist who once studied under the late classical master Isaac Stern, Ben-Ari has collaborated with artists such as Kanye West, Jay Z, Wyclef Jean, Alicia Keys, Wynton Marsalis, Maroon 5, Akon, Patti Labelle, Donna Summer, Janet Jackson, John Legend and Diamond Platnumz.
Ben-Ari, who likes to work in all genres of music, is currently exploring African sounds. “I’m obsessed with African music, I love it,” said Ben-Ari.
The duo recently released the first single from the project, “She Don’t Know,” as well as an Afro remix for the song “Trap Queen” by hip-hop artist Fetty Wap.
“Afrostringz features violin in a way it was never featured in African music before,” she said. “It’s multidimensional.... There are so many subgenres of African music, and we’re mixing in hip-hop and classical.... It doesn’t have to fit into one genre.”
She and Young D have been doing an extensive PR campaign in Africa.
“We’re getting up in the middle of the night to do Zoom interviews in Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania, lots of places,” she said. “We’re making the best of this situation.”
She feels that this collaboration is particularly important in light of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“It’s a world divided now, and people look to Afrostringz, and we bring harmony to music,” she said.
When the pandemic first hit, Ben-Ari was on a tour of Canada. At first, she and her crew didn’t realize how much their lives were about to change.
“We were all joking; we didn’t take it seriously,” she recalled.
But soon the outbreak ended the tour, and Ben-Ari was home in New Jersey, focusing on her 10-year-old son, Dorel, and the Afrostringz project. She dreams of returning to Israel to see her parents, who live in Ra’anana, but for now, that’s on hold.
One news story she’s been following lately, besides the coronavirus, is Kanye West’s collapse. A former collaborator of the controversial and apparently troubled superstar, she said, “Whatever he’s going through, he suffers, that I’m sure of.”
He’s behaving very differently than he was when they worked together, over a decade ago, on half a dozen songs. She shared a Grammy Award with West for Best Rap Song in 2005 as a cowriter on “Jesus Walks.”
“I had a wonderful working relationship with him. He is one of the most honest and fair artists when it comes to work; he is very fair when it comes to publishing and giving credit,” she said. She described a joyful collaboration, sometimes in person and sometimes via email.
Ben-Ari suggested, as have others who know West, that his late mother “was a helluva woman. She held things together for him,” and that whatever issues he may have had all along have become more intense and difficult since her death.
Ben-Ari recalls confronting him just once, over how he was treating other people he worked with.
“Me and my big mouth,” she recalls of the confrontation. “It was only me and him, and he listened.”
Planning for the future these days is not easy, especially since “my entire year of touring, all my performances, have been put on hold... The future is completely uncertain, for me and for everyone else in entertainment... But I’m privileged to have this opportunity, to be creative and have an international success.”
But whatever project and style she is working on, “my ultimate goal is creating original music.”
For more information on Ben-Ari and Afrostringz, go to the websites and