Checking in with the Hip-Hop Violinist

Miri Ben-Ari speaks to the Post about her success in hip-hop fiddlin'.

miri ben ari 88 (photo credit: )
miri ben ari 88
(photo credit: )
Citing her own success story as an example of Jewish and black coexistence in the United States, Miri Ben-Ari, the "Hip-Hop Violinist," praised on Tuesday the work of the Fellowship of Israel and Black America (FIBA). "There's a huge Christian black community in the US who are very supportive of Israel. And FIBA is the one organization that provides a link for them to Israel," she told The Jerusalem Post prior to performing her hit single "Symphony of Brotherhood" Tuesday night at the FIBA Martin Luther King, Jr. Israel Awards, where she was honored for her work in reaching out to African American culture and youth in the US. "My experience, as a Jew and an Israeli in America, has been great," said the internationally acclaimed violinist, who combines elements of jazz, R&B and hip-hop and has collaborated with Alicia Keys, Maroon 5 and John Legend in addition to releasing her own best-selling CD, The Hip-Hop Violinist. "My career as the 'hip-hop violinist' is thanks to the black hip-hop community. Wyclef Jean styled me in this mold, I was introduced to the black community by Jay Z, and I won a Grammy with Kanye West. They never expressed that my Israeli or Jewish identity was any problem. In fact, they see a special affinity between Israel and the blacks in the US, and they love the fact that I'm from Israel," she said. Ben-Ari has also recruited members of the black hip-hop community to be part of Gedenk, a nonprofit project to promote education awareness of the Holocaust. "This is my passion," she said, adding that she's going to be honored next month by Yad Vashem for her musical contribution to the 2007 Holocaust film The Freedom Writers, starring Hilary Swank. Ben-Ari, who is working on a new album, as well as helping disco diva Donna Summer on her upcoming comeback album ("It's going to be amazing," she said), said she'll also be busy over the next few months performing on behalf of Israel. "A big chunk of the upcoming shows I'll be performing will be part of special events around the world celebrating Israel's 60th birthday. I'm proud to be an Israeli." Also a proud American, Ben-Ari has performed in benefit shows for Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. "I would love to see a woman as president - it would be very special for me, as a woman. But if Obama is the candidate, I would give him my blessing. He's brilliant."