Celebrate MLK Day with a free virtual concert from Off-Broadway’s NYTF and a music release from Miri Ben-Ari and Flo Rida

In honor of Martin Luther King Day on Monday are two free online offerings – one a rebroadcast of an annual concert, the other a new music/video release – that capture shared experiences of the African American and Jewish communities in the spirit of the Reverend’s uplifting and ever-timely message of peace and harmony among people.

When Grammy Award-winning Israeli-born violinist Miri Ben-Ari was invited to the White House by First Lady Michelle Obama to perform her violin song “Symphony of Brotherhood” inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., she did not anticipate that a decade later she would be joined by multi-platinum recording artist, international superstar, and business mogul Flo Rida and entertainment visionary Erik “E Smooth” Hicks to release a full lyrical version with Sparta, now available on all popular music platforms.

An artist and producer, Goodwill Ambassador of Music to the United Nations, and TED speaker, Ben-Ari, known as The Hip-Hop Violinist, has created her own signature music style with a revolutionary fusion of classical, Hip-Hop, soul, and dance by collaborating with other Grammy-winning artists, including Jay Z, Wyclef Jean, Alicia Keys, Wynton Marsalis, Britney Spears, Maroon 5, Patti Labelle, Janet Jackson, and John Legend.

She began writing “Symphony of Brotherhood Rise” after visiting the MLK museum in Atlanta and describes it as “a music statement delivered to a society yearning for harmony, empowerment, and good news. It’s a song that brings together different worlds: gospel, rap, violin, and the iconic MLK’s ‘I Have a Dream.’ As a descendent of grandparents that survived the Jewish Holocaust, I was deeply touched by Dr. King’s words, and with my brother Ohad, produced a soulful violin song to his timeless message. I’m humbled to be a part of the conversation of healing, harmony, and positivity.”

Flo Rida, who has sold over 100 million records worldwide, delivers a meaningful musical performance substantially different from his many hit songs. “It’s a true honor to be a part of this song that was inspired by Dr. King,” he said. “We did this to touch and activate people around the world to collectively promote peace, love, and happiness, especially in these uncertain and tumultuous times because the world needs uplifting and positive energy more than ever.”

“Dr. King’s message is just as powerful and relevant today, as ever, and it continues to stand the test of time. And for me personally, I’m deeply filled with gratitude to be a part of this incredible movement that I hope everyone will join,” noted self-taught multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, producer, and entrepreneur Hicks. All agree that, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that impacted our society in so many ways, music offers the power to heal, inspire, and unite.

You can watch the “Symphony of Brotherhood” video here:

On January 16-17, National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene will rebroadcast an encore presentation of its virtual concert Soul to Soul, celebrating the music and common experiences of the African American and Jewish communities through a mix of Yiddish folk songs, Civil Rights anthems, spirituals in English, show tunes, jazz, and klezmer. All Yiddish songs will include subtitles with English translations.

Now in its eleventh year, this audience favorite, first conceived and directed by NYTF Artistic Director Zalmen Mlotek in 2010, has played annually to sold out houses in New York, and has performed across the country (Los Angeles, Boca Raton, Denver, Baltimore, Chattanooga) and internationally (Bucharest, Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg), before going virtual during the pandemic in 2021. It has evolved to include updated multimedia imagery and video, curated by NYTF Associate Artistic Director Motl Didner (who wrote the concert script), which reflect the ongoing need for unity and healing in today’s socio-economic climate.

The cast features Broadway veteran Elmore James (Disney on Broadway’s Beauty and The Beast), Cantor Magda Fishman (B’nai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton), Tony Perry (NYTF’s Shpiel! Shpiel! Shpiel!), Lisa Fishman (Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish), and Tatianna Wechsler (Love in Hate Nation), who also produced and directed the virtual performance, which runs approximately 67 minutes.

Soul to Soul streams on Sunday, January 16-Monday, January 17, 2022, on the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene website. Viewing is free and no registration is required.

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Deb Miller (PhD, Art History) is the Senior Correspondent and Editor for New York City, where she grew up seeing every show on Broadway. She is an active member of the Outer Critics Circle and served for more than a decade as a Voter, Nominator, and Judge for the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre. Outside of her home base in NYC, she has written and lectured extensively on the arts and theater throughout the world (including her many years in Amsterdam, London, and Venice, and her extensive work and personal connections with Andy Warhol and his circle) and previously served as a lead writer for Stage Magazine, Phindie, and Central Voice.

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