A wise one once said a true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others.
That is exactly what Miri Ben-Ari has done and continues to do every day. Since making her mark in the industry ten years ago, the Grammy-winning violinist has consistently broken barriers with her music and philanthropic ways. From her numerous collaborations with Kanye West, to becoming the United Nations’ “Good Will Ambassador of Music,” it is easy to notice that Miri’s love for music fuels her passion to provide a quality experience.
Global Grind sat down with the amazing violinist to get more inside details on her rise to stardom, working with various artists in different genres, and giving back to the community.
In what way(s) has your music evolved since winning your first Grammy 10 years ago?
I think I’ve evolved as an artist and also as an individual. This month I’m launching a new show, Project b, for the purpose of eliminating the communication gap that keeps us apart from environmental and social issues, and to realize our common interest and combined power. My experience in the past 10 years, working with many inspiring personals as well as organizations such as the United Nations, has inspired me to be creative not only with my music, but also with my message. Donna Summer once said to me, ‘You are going to create the bridge with your music.’ She saw something in me that I wasn’t aware of. Project b is a ground-breaking production of music and multimedia, and I am so excited to premiere it this month, August 27th, in NYC at the Highline Ballroom.
How has dedicating your time to the military influenced your work ethic and transition towards pursuing music?
Being in the military was an important experience. I was born in Israel and therefore, serving is mandatory. No matter what you do in the military, it grounds you; it disciplines you and helps you mature.
You’re known for your memorable collaborations with Kanye West and recently, you had the opportunity to collab with him on “Can’t Stop” with Theophilus London. How was it working with Theophilus on his new album Vibes?
It was great. He’s very creative and I loved vibin’ with him in the studio. I always love collaborating with Kanye West, we have a long history of musical collaborations.
You’ve also crossed barriers and collaborated with big name artists in multiple genres, including Romeo Santos, Armin Van Buuren, and Donna Summer. Can you describe what it’s like to team up with musicians from different backgrounds and how you excel at being versatile?
I love collaborating. I love feeding off the vibrations and creativity. Every artist I collaborated with introduced me to their unique style, creative ideas, and audience. When collaborating with Armin Van Buuren for the song “Intense,” it was chosen as the 2014 trance song of the year. It only featured a violinist (myself), no vocals, and that goes to show you how powerful collaborations can be, combining electronic equipment with classical instruments. It’s amazing to see how collaborations can expand the limits within a musical genre. With my non-profit organization GEDENK, we love collaborating with others on campaigns to spread our message of tolerance, and my new show Project b is all about collaborations; we are a part of a larger ecosystem and our individual progress depends on the success of others and how we all work together.
You’ve performed at Zac Posen’s fashion shows in the past. What inspired the production behind the pieces you performed at his show?
I love fashion and I love Zac. When I’m in the studio, I record, produce, and engineer my music, so before I began producing the music for that show, I spent time with Zac and he showed me the line that he wanted to feature. I wanted to capture that vibe and the spirit of his clothing line; Zac wanted something very classy, very “chic,” combined with a little bit of a street feel. Music is texture, and I wanted to produce music that you can almost “touch.” Music is very much about aesthetic and beauty. As a brand ambassador for Harman Kardon, I promote Beautiful Sound; where sound-meets-elegance-meets-beauty. Harman Kardon has the world’s best technology and sound, but also the most beautiful and design forward products.
Speaking of Harman Kardon, how does it feel being a Global Ambassador for that brand? How has that influenced the direction you’re taking in your career?
First and foremost, it’s an honor. This is the biggest audio company in the world, and I’m truly humbled to represent this brand. I love Harman’s product concept: “where technology meets design,” the Harman family and especially chairman and CEO Dinesh Paliwal. When you’re a brand ambassador, it gives you certain responsibility and it is truly inspiring.
You were recently awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor for your humanitarian achievements. How has that motivated you to continue to break barriers?
It’s been extremely motivating. The Ellis Island Medal of Honor is given to people who have fulfilled the American Dream, for people like myself who migrated to this country to pursue their professional career while contributing to the community and preserving their heritage, ethics, and values.
I took this idea further with the creation of my non-profit organization GEDENK, which promotes diversity and tolerance, finding our common ground, and appreciating the beauty of diversity. We just finished our second year in partnership with “Scholastic Art & Writing Awards,” where we asked students all over the nation to create original works of art or writing based on lessons learned from the Holocaust and other genocides. We’ve received thousands of submissions from teenagers all over the U.S. and we just had an award ceremony at Carnegie Hall, where we celebrated our 6 winners for the “GEDENK Award for Tolerance.” Meeting our teen-winners in person was very inspiring, seeing the change that our hard work with GEDENK was able to bring into their lives. We share updates and this campaign on our site, www.GedenkMovement.org.
What can we expect from you musically in the future?
My new show Project b is more than a musical show, it is an entertaining experience of soul and electronic music combined with a multimedia production and a powerful message. I cannot wait to perform it for the first time at the Highline Ballroom August 27 in New York City. I feel that this show has the potential to touch a lot of people, and especially the young people who are the key to create environmental and social changes.
If you are in the New York City area, Miri will be performing at the Highline Ballroom on August 27. Click here to purchase tickets.
PHOTO CREDIT: Sejour Group