RUMINATIONS ON CULTURAL ACTIVISM
This page is a collection of projects I've been involved with throughout my music making career. They are like mini-eras... A pendulum swinging between focused songwriting-arranging-recording-touring periods, and moments thinking about and acting on how music and arts allows us to ask questions and engage in the world around us. They are both important, and they feed each other.
THERE IS NO SOUND BARRIER
Meklit was commissioned by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in April of 2016 to compose There Is No Sound Barrier, a body of music inspired by the concept of the musically alive world, as described in her 2015 TED Talk. The work will debut in San Francisco and New York in 2019.
THE NILE PROJECT
The Nile Project was founded in August 2011 by Egyptian ethnomusicologist Mina Girgis and Ethiopian-American singer Meklit to address the Nile basin’s cultural and environmental challenges using an innovative approach that combines music, education and an enterprise platform.
The Nile Project curates collaborations among musicians from the 11 Nile countries to expose audiences to the cultures of their river neighbors. These musical experiences foster cross-cultural empathy and inspire environmental curiosity to shift the Nile from a divisive geopolitical argument to a uniting East-African conversation. In partnership with local universities, interactive workshops and free online courses educate students and help them discover their unique roles in creating a more sustainable Nile Basin. www.nileproject.org
Meklit has joined the Board of Directors of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, one of the Bay Area's most experimental yet grassroots large arts institutions. Meklit has worked with YBCA since 2008, when she co-curated the Red Poppy Art House exhibition for BAN5 in the Room for Big Ideas. She also deepened and continued her relationship with YBCA through 2014's Home [Away From] Home Project (see below). Meklit is thrilled to be a part of the stewardship of this incredible cultural organization.
THIS WAS MADE HERE
This Was Made Here is a new body of music currently being composed by singer, musician, and cultural activist Meklit. Born in Ethiopia, raised in Brooklyn and based for a decade in San Francisco, Ethiopian traditional songs, Jazz and the songwriter tradition are marks of Meklit's sonic homelands. Taking these core elements as foundational building blocks, she sonically explores the cultural re-imagination happening as part of the arrival of the Ethiopian Diaspora en masse to North America.
Working with rhythm, melody, the female chorus, approaches to poetry and lyric, as well as structural elements of composition, each song will highlight distinct cultural markers as jumping off points. Deeply inspired by Mulatu Astatke, the Godfather of Ethio-Jazz, the work builds upon the concepts pioneered by Astatke as part of the late 1960s and early 1970s Golden Age of Ethiopian music. At the same time, the music is steeped in 21st century North America, where deeply fluid immigrant generations are the norm. The work invites a closer look into the quandary of identity, recognizing the impossibility of answering the question, "What parts of you are Ethiopian and what parts of you are American?"
Meklit served as a Panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts 2014 cycle, evaluating grant applications in the category of Presenting and Multidisciplinary works.
HOME [AWAY FROM] HOME
Home [Away From] Home is an experimental art installation featuring artists in the Ethiopian and Eritrean communities of the Bay Area, culminating in a weekend-long festival of visual arts, music, dance, poetry, & food, around next year's Eritrean and Ethiopian New Year (Sept 11, 2014).
The project serves as a metaphor for African immigrants in the diaspora trying to build a home in America while maintaining and sharing their cultural identity in the USA. With a respect for the unique histories of the Ethiopian and Eritrean peoples, we intend to highlight the art, music, and culture that brings immigrants from these two communities together while exploring the theme of “Home (Away From) Home”.
Home [away from] Home is the brain child of Ethiopian American singer Meklit Hadero, Eritrean American filmmaker Sephora Woldu, and Ethiopian American musician Ellias Fullmore. The project is supported by YBCA In Community, a new initiative created by Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA).
YBCA , an arts and culture organization recognized locally, nationally, and globally for its dedication to artistic innovation, has a committed long-term vision to place contemporary art at the heart of community life around the world. www.thehomeawayfromhome.org