"I am an Israeli, I represent Israel. The Israel mentality, culture, flavor, the curly hair, it’s a part of me. It's who I am."
It is almost impossible to pin point exactly who Miri Ben-Ari is. In fact even labeling her with a specific musical genre is hard to do. The classically trained musician, who has been called the "Hip-Hop violinist" collaborated with artists from Alicia Keys to Kanye West. Her hit solo "Symphony of brotherhood" was the first instrumental solo to hit the Billboard R&B/hip-hop charts.
Photo Credit: Noam Galai
Growing up in Ranana, Miri had no idea how far the violin would take her. As a typical Israeli, she served in the army, and later moved to the United States. Miri credits her Israeli heritage for her "chutzpa" and the decision to pursue her dreams. Miri served in the IDF, and explained that it was "an experience that really humbles you" but also "gives you a sense, when you are done, that everything is possible." Chatting about the tendency of Israeli youth to travel after the army, she explained, "A lot of people pack their bags and go. I did the same except I just took my violin. I felt like I served my country and now it's time to do me and I can do anything I want."
But even in her wildest dreams, she could not have imagined how far that would take her. Miri could hardly believe her eyes when she saw her name next to President Obama's when she performed for him. She explained that it was "surreal" when she was recognized as a Remarkable Woman by Michelle Obama. But to Miri it is not only about the high profile audiences, but rather about bringing people together. In her words, "Every performance is meaningful to me... when I perform everyone is becoming one." As a performer she strives to bring different genres together, and to take her audience on a musical journey.
In addition to her musical talents, Miri is dedicated to Holocaust education. As the granddaughter of survivors, she thinks it is her duty to ensure that the next generation of youth never forgets the suffering that came before them. To this end she founded "Gedenk," literally, "Remember," the organization focuses on Holocaust education and outreach through creative campaigns.
Miri Ben-Ari will be performing at the 6th and I Synagogue on April 27th.