Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Mimara (Mimi) Block is a violinist, jazz vocalist, and composer who was diagnosed with autism and a severe developmental delay at the age of two. At the age of three, she and her family moved to Evanston, Illinois for her special education and her physical and speech therapy, since she didn’t speak any words at all. Growing up in a very musical family (Mimi’s mother is a classical pianist, who studied with Mimi’s father, a jazz guitarist and pianist), Mimi listened to jazz and classical music such as Duke Ellington and Maurice Ravel, and had a wonderful childhood living in Evanston. When Mimi was seven, she started to pick up a violin as a therapeutic tool, and started to take classical violin lessons. Finally, she started to communicate and speak when she was eight years old. When a teacher asked Mimi to sing a melody, she always harmonized the song, and whenever someone sang an out of tune melody, she would scold them.When Mimi was thirteen years old, she began to take an interest in playing jazz on her violin by ear, and because of this, her classical teacher was always angry at her. She attended her first jazz camp, and as time went on, she became more interested in playing jazz violin than classical violin. A year later, Mimi and her family moved to New York to take care of her late grandmother, and her life was challenged by the Big Apple from her suburban life. She started to go to Special Music School High School, in pursuit of her classical violin major, and studied with Andy Didorenko at the Kaufman Music Center. She also studied with Christian Howes for her jazz violin. In 2018, she met Barry Harris, which was a life changing experience. She started to attend his jazz orchestra rehearsals as a string player and began singing jazz repertoire. Mimi also started playing for Jazz at Lincoln Center’s youth programs, and is a regular at the Fat Afro Latin Jazz Cats every Sunday. Mimi played in Cuba with the same band for performances with Arturo O’Farrill, and his son, Zack O’Farrill. Today, Mimi, who graduated high school last year, is studying DAWs with Oskari Nurminen for her dream to be a songwriter and producer, continuing her other dream to be a composer and arranger for big bands. She also studies jazz composition and improvisation with Michael Weiss.
Barry Harris Performance Achievement Award (March 4, 2022)
Danny Award (November 12, 2022)