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Miri Ben-Ari

Miri Ben-Ari

How many artists can say they got props from both superstar rapper Jay-Z and Carnegie Hall favorite Isaac Stern? Hip-hop violinist Miri Ben-Ari can. When the Israeli-born virtuoso's family couldn't afford her violin lessons anymore, it was Stern who stepped in and recommended Ben-Ari for an America-Israel Cultural Foundation scholarship. She was later chosen to play in the prestigious Israeli Army String Quartet and fell in love with jazz, a love that brought her to the United States and the Mannes School of Music in New York City. Straight out of school she released her debut in 1999. Titled Sahara and released on the Half Note label, the album drew positive reviews, most pointing out how sure and diverse this new violinist sounded. Recorded live at the famous Blue Note Club, 2003's Temple of Beautiful furthered Ben-Ari's status as an up-and-coming jazz musician.

But Ben-Ari's love of music knew no borders, and even the diverse world of jazz couldn't contain her for long. She became a studio musician, and while most studio musicians play their bits without too much of an impact, Ben-Ari's genuine love of R&B and hip-hop was soon to take her from the background to the foreground. Sessions for Britney Spears, Alicia Keys, Patti LaBelle, Joe, Wyclef Jean, and many more led her to Kanye West. West hired Ben-Ari to write, produce, arrange, and perform all of the strings on his smash debut album, The College Dropout. The team also worked on Twista's hit single "Overnight Celebrity" and its accompanying video, which gave Ben-Ari plenty of face time on BET and MTV. A feature spot on tour with Kanye West and appearances on BET's 106 & Park and Rap City had audiences talking about this new hip-hop star and set the stage for her more street-savvy third album, The Hip Hop Violinist, released by Universal in 2005. ~ David Jeffries, Rovi


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