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Ezinma talks with COMPLEX about life as a musical renegade

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The Internet's viral violinist wants the world to see beyond her social media persona.

This feature is one of a two-part Ray-Ban series that highlights the brand's connection to timeless, authentic artists who display courage and creativity in their work and output everyday. More than just musicians, these icons-in-the-making are also thought leaders, purposefully using their art to build people up, support their global communities, and to help people clearly see the best in themselves. Read on to see how they're accomplishing these goals in style.

On an overcast Monday, violinist Ezinma, affectionately known as Ezi, invites Complex into her Brooklyn home to talk about her life as a musical renegade. With an engaging smile that spreads ear to ear, she sits back in an accent chair, donning a pair of light gray Ray-Ban Clubmaster Oval Optics that complement her yellow outfit, and beams, "Let's go!"

Now world famous, Ezi has played alongside some of music's biggest artists. But things weren't always like that for the virtuoso. Born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, the classically-trained Ezi  never "in a million years" saw herself as a world class musician. In fact, she never dreamed of becoming an artist at all. "Growing up in a place like Nebraska, you don't really see artists," says Ezi looking out the window. "I had no concept of what it was to even be a musician. To be honest, it [was] always a struggling artist thing, so it was something that I never, ever imagined could've been possible."

While Ezi began playing the violin at only three years old, it wasn't until the age of 19 that it became clear the classical instrument had to be a part of life-professionally and personally. "I was at the University of Nebraska, studying biochemistry and math," she recalls. "I was doing pre-medicine because I thought I was going to be a doctor." But halfway through her pre-med track, Ezi realized medicine didn't match up with who she really was nor who she wanted to be. 

"I think the universe has this weird way of working so that you keep being pulled back to what your purpose is," Ezi continues. "I was doing medicine because my dad, [a] typical West Indian dad, was like, ‘That's not a real job, to be a musician. You need to be a doctor or a lawyer. Maybe a dentist, maybe a dermatologist, but those are your choices.'"