Meredith Ezinma Ramsay, professionally known as Ezinma [Eh-zeen-mah], first picked up the violin when she was three years old. Born in Lincoln, Nebraska, to a Guyanese father and German-American mother, Ezinma’s mixed cultural and ethnic background influenced her musical upbringing and molded her into the versatile artist she is today. As a mixed race girl raised in the Midwest, Ezinma felt she didn’t belong. So, she found her comfort in the violin.
A precocious child, her talent was noticeable from a young age. When auditioning for her middle school’s orchestra, Ezinma placed third chair. She was shocked because the players in front of her weren’t as advanced she was. Her father used this moment to teach her an unforgettable lesson: “People aren’t going to see you for your talent, but your skin color. It isn’t enough to be good, you need to be the best.” Feeling she had been misjudged, Ezinma stood up for her talent, used the orchestra’s chair placement challenge system and went on to serve as first chair until she graduated. In high school Ezinma won scholarships to study and perform in Italy with world renowned faculty and attend prestigious music festivals including Interlochen Summer Academy, and she won youth concerto competitions. Despite her success, Ezinma pursued a career in medicine and left the violin as a hobby. At the University of Nebraska she double majored in biochemistry (with an emphasis in pre-medicine) and violin performance and minored in mathematics. While at the University of Nebraska she studied with Hyeyung Yoon of the Chiara String Quartet. Midway through her undergraduate degree, she realized her regret about not playing violin professionally. In 2012, she won a scholarship to complete her master’s degree in violin performance at The New School in New York City where she studied with Laurie Smukler. While in New York, Ezinma experimented and found her sound. In addition to performing at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Symphony Space, she took production classes, studied jazz violin, joined a few bands, and pushed past the limits of the classical genre.
Ezinma catapulted into digital stardom when she began performing covers of viral trap hits on her violin, including “Mask Off” by Future, “Gucci Gang” by Lil Pump and “Rockstar” by Post Malone. In 2016 She was approached by Beyonce with an offer to be a part of her all-female band. Ezinma accompanied her at the end of her Formation World Tour, the release of “Lemonade,” and in 2018 was part of history when she performed alongside Beyoncé at Coachella. Ezinma has worked with other artists including Stevie Wonder, Yo-Yo Ma, Kendrick Lamar, Joshua Bell, Clean Bandit, Sza, Mac Miller, A$AP Ferg and countless others.
In 2019, Ezinma signed with Decca Records, US (Universal Music Group). Currently, the classically-trained violinist is gearing up for the highly-anticipated release of her original music. This music presents the world with a different side of her and a new context for the classical violin. Ezinma’s style cannot be limited to one genre. Her music is a blend of virtuosic melodies and orchestral soundscapes with hard hitting beats—a classical-fusion that is cinematic, orchestral and anthemic. This fusion, this juxtaposition of seemingly unrelated worlds, allows Ezinma to connect with diverse audiences and bring classical music to new audiences.
In 2017, Ezinma was asked to score “The Times of Bill” a documentary by Mark Bozek, with narration by Sarah Jessica Parker. This documentary, which features hours of unedited footage and photos of the fashion photographer and icon, was met with praise by Vogue and The New York Time. This project ignited a passion in Ezinma for scoring and writing to picture. In 2019 Ezinma scored Alison Duke’s short film “Promise Me,” which received many accolades. This year, Ezinma’s documentary about her life and music is scheduled to premiere at Tribeca Film Festival in partnership with Bulgari.
When Ezinma was growing up, there was a mélange of music booming from the stereo: Parliament, Bill Monroe, Bob Marley, Van Morrison, Billie Holiday, Earth Wind and Fire, Bob Dylan and Nina Simon. These artists—along with her classical study of Bach, Beethoven and Mozart – were influential in her development and continue to inspire her today. A true creative, Ezinma continues to find inspiration from many different art forms including dance, visual art, and film.
In addition to her music, Ezinma is an advocate for music education. In 2020, she launched her nonprofit foundation, HeartStrings, a music-based youth development program for children K-5 of diverse backgrounds. At HeartStrings Academy, each child is equipped with a quality instrument, outstanding music instruction, community engagement activities, access to world renowned concerts, and performance opportunities. Ezinma yearns to increase visibility and access for children of color so more kids can feel like they can be seen and heard in classical spaces.
Ezinma resides in Brooklyn, NY, and enjoys reading, kickboxing, running, and fashion.