Violinist, hip-hop star, philanthropist – no wonder Michelle Obama recognized Israel’s Miri Ben-Ari as a "remarkable woman". Her unusual fusion of classical style with jazz, R&B and hip-hop has not only gotten her to the White House but also into collaborations with performers such as Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, Patti Labelle, Wynton Marsalis, Maroon 5, Janet Jackson, Brandy and Britney Spears.

Hip-hop violinist wins awards for music and philanthropy

 

"Being from Israel represents soulfulness and a long history of struggle, which I always try to capture with my music," Miri Ben-Ari.

By Avigayil Kadesh

Grammy-winning Israeli hip-hop violinist Miri Ben-Ari says her March 30 appearance at the White House was one of the most incredible experiences she’s ever had. "It was such an honor to be invited by the First Lady, Michelle Obama, as a ‘Remarkable Woman,’ and to perform at the East Room," says Tel Aviv native Ben-Ari, who started playing the violin at the age of five and studied under the classical master Isaac Stern.

Her unusual fusion of classical style with jazz, R&B and hip-hop has not only gotten her to the White House but also into collaborations with performers such as Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, Patti Labelle, Wynton Marsalis, Maroon 5, Janet Jackson, Brandy and Britney Spears. Ben-Ari says the Women’s History Month event in Washington "inspired me to keep growing as an artist and as a person," but the 32-year-old musician is pretty inspiring already, recognized for her philanthropy no less than her musical talent.

Her style and ethnicity position her as a unique bridge between diverse populations in the United States and Israel. On the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in January 2008, the Fellowship of Israel and Black America presented Ben-Ari with its first Israel Award in Jerusalem. She says this was a result of her "unique outreach to African-American culture and youth, particularly through my original composition ‘Symphony of Brotherhood.’"