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Miri Ben-Ari : The Kotori Interview

Miri Ben-Ari: Variations on a Theme of Peace and Tolerance
By Cole Williams

Miri Ben-Ari is no session violinist, not even in a joke. “That’s what I work for and what I strive for in my career: not to be a session player, but to be an artist, she contends without a flicker of self-doubt. “When people hear my violin, I want them to inquire if it’s me.

As well they should. “I don’t use [the violin] in a classical way, she explains, “I use it as a groove instrument, and I use it to play music that has soul; not like classical soul, I’m talking R&B soul. And I do it because that’s me – it’s part of me – it’s what’s coming out of me.

So far, what is ‘coming out’ of Miri has earned her mountains of praise and the respect of classical musicians and hip-hop artists alike. However, her inspired work on such critical successes as Kanye West’s “The College Dropout (for which she received a Grammy) only set the stage for creating new music that penetrates even deeper into the heart of hip-hop and the social conscious that hip-hop so courageously explores.

“It’s so naïve and beautiful, to see that you play and you do it for the love of music and you put music out, and there are little kids out there that want to do what you do. They don’t want to become another gangster or drug dealer, someone talking about the bling and the bitches. If you want to play violin you want to play real music. And that blows my mind!

“I’m a daughter to a family of Holocaust survivors and it was an issue that I could never deal with, she begins very seriously. “I was so traumatized the only way for me to deal with that was by not dealing with it. And then I started to deal with it through music. My new single I have dedicated to the fight against racism. For me, the Holocaust is a racism tragedy of the human being, one of the biggest tragedies. But then all genocides are a tragedy, and unfortunately, it was not the only genocide.

The single she speaks of – “Symphony of Brotherhood – features excerpts from Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream speech. It has graced the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop top ten for over eight weeks.

“The other composition I’m going to put out is a direct song about the Jewish Holocaust, and I’m going to put it out in Israel first. I actually shot the music video, and it’s going to be the first music video ever, in the history of Jewish people in Israel, about the Holocaust. And we’re actually dealing with it, we’re digging. The song is one of my favorites that I’ve ever done. And that’s hip-hop for me.

“In order to have peace you have to deal with people who want peace just as much as you do, Miri continues. “You have to deal with people who love their children more than they hate us. It’s very hard to comprehend that there are people in this world who don’t appreciate the gift of life and peace and the very basic blessings that we are born with and given to us by God. Pretty amazing...
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