By Harry Rubenstein
February 15, 2005, Updated September 13, 2012

Miri Ben-Ari – a Grammy for co-writing ‘Jesus Walks’ and a solo album on the way.Israeli Miri Ben-Ari – the ‘Hip Hop violinist’ – can add Grammy winner to her resume after winning the award for Best Rap Song for co-writing “Jesus Walks” on Kanye West’s CD The College Dropout. Ben-Ari played and produced all of the strings on West’s multi-platinum album and has previously worked with high profile artists such as Wyclef, Jay-Z, Britney Spears and Brandy.

“People say what I do crosses barriers and brings a whole new medium to hip-hop and R&B,” she told AP recently. “I’m opening doors. When you play good music to any crowd, any culture or color, there’s no barrier. People just like music. I believe it can cross all the bridges in the world. It’s a universal language.”

Ben-Ari grew near Tel Aviv and began her classical music education at a young age. Legendary violinist Isaac Stern saw her potential and recommended Miri for a scholarship from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation. During her mandatory military service, she was chosen to play with the prestigious Israeli Army String Quartet.

“[The army] definitely influenced me, and put my life in perspective. I think a very important lesson I learned is in the military every one is one. When you go to basic training, every soldier is a soldier. They treat us the same. And I love that because I seriously believe that every individual is just as good as another individual. Nobody’s better than anybody else. When you’re coming from the military, you understand it to a whole other extent,” said Ben-Ari.

After the army, Ben-Ari studied Jazz at the Mannes School of Music in New York City. After releasing two albums and having a modest career in jazz, Ben Ari was introduced to the hip-hop community by Wyclef Jean. Most recently, she has been touring as a featured artist with West throughout the U.S. and Europe.

Last year, Ben-Ari was signed by Universal Records and her solo debut The Hip Hop Violinist, an album featuring her violin with hard-edged hip-hop production will be released in the coming months and will feature West, Anthony Hamilton, John Legend, Scarface, Mya and Lil Mo.

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