Our Experts List

We had the pleasure of working with many experts to help inspire you. In this section, we have invited our experts to post their biographies and make it easy to find them, should you choose to connect or learn more. Please search for them by name or keyword using the search below.

Miri Ben-Ari

Miri Ben-Ari

Featured in Chapter Four: Power

Miri Ben-Ari is an Israeli violinist who currently resides in the United States.

Ben-Ari grew up playing classical music; she started training at age 5 and at age 12, she was presented with a violin by Isaac Stern. During her mandatory military service, she was chosen to play for the Israeli Army String Quartet. During her stint in the Israeli military, she heard an album by Charlie Parker. Following her service, she moved from Israel to New York in 1993 in hopes of using her classical training on stage and attended Mannes College of Music but was expelled after two semesters due to poor attendance caused by Ben-Ari playing gigs to pay the rent.

She released her first solo CD Sahara in 1999.

Her persistence earned her an appearance on BET's 106 & Park; the viewer response netted her a return visit a few weeks later. Her performances caught the eye of Jay-Z,  who invited her to play as one of the headliners of New York radio station Hot 97's annual Summer Jam concert in 2001, where she netted a standing ovation. Around the same time, a mutual friend introduced Ben-Ari to Wyclef Jean,  who invited her to perform with him at his Carnegie Hall show, the first by a hip-hop artist at the venue.

In 2003, she released her second CD Temple of Beautiful, and followed that up with a live CD the following year entitled Live at the Blue Note.

She won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Song in 2005 as one of the co-writers of Kanye West's Jesus Walks. In 2005, she released her fourth CD and first to focus on hip-hop style, entitled The Hip-Hop Violinst.. As part of the promotion for it, she was part of Reebok's "I Am What I Am" global advertising campaign; Reebok was also part of the video for the first single from the CD, "We Gonna Win".

In 2009, she release Symphony of Brotherhood, an instrumental track featuring Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream speech. It became the first instrumental single ever to hit Billboard R&B/hip-hop charts, where it reached number 2.

Ben-Ari was invited to the White House by Michelle Obama in March 2011 as part of a Women's History Month celebration, and she has been invited to perform at the 2011 Miss Universe China pageant.

In 2006, she co-founded Gedenk (Yiddish for "remember"), an organization dedicated to promoting education about the Holocaust in the U.S.

In 2011, she was named by Ynet as one of the 10 most influential Israelis in America.