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From the streets of New York City to the Coachella stage alongside songstress Beyoncé, violinist Ezinma has used her artistry to change the narrative around representation within classical music. The Nebraska native is introducing youth from underrepresented groups to the art form through the creation of her foundation Strings by Heart, ABC7 reported.

The classical music genre has historically been white male-dominated. Research shows less than 2 percent of instrumentalists in American orchestras are Black. For Ezinma—a classically-trained musician who has collaborated with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Kendrick Lamar and SZA—her journey in the industry is deeper than music. With every performance, viral video and chord, the artist—whose work sits at the intersection of classical and hip-hop—strives to inspire individuals who don’t often see themselves reflected in the space to challenge the status quo and follow their dreams.

She recently launched Strings by Heart; an organization designed to make music education accessible to youth in underserved communities. Through the nonprofit, youngsters will have the opportunity to participate in music lessons led by accomplished educators, attend cultural events that will broaden their perspectives and have access to quality instruments and supplies. The program was created to use music as a vessel to teach youth lessons they can apply in other areas of their lives.

Ezinma says her own coming of age experiences inspired her to create the foundation. “I remember the isolation I felt as the only Black person in the orchestra, at times discouraged by my teachers from pursuing my dreams,” she shared in a statement, according to the news outlet. “Yet the statistics are clear that music education plays a vital role in helping children and young adults get on the path to achieve their goals, improve self-esteem and more. Children from every background and community deserve the chance to experience the joy of classical music and feel that they belong in that world, and what better genre than hip-hop to segue young minds into classical music’s vast potential?” She recently stopped by local Harlem schools to encourage children to join the program.

Although studies have shown music programs are linked to better academic outcomes, arts education initiatives are often axed or non-existent at underfunded schools; illustrating the need for programs like Strings by Heart.


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