Music at its heart is collaborative. Playing with different sonic characters allows you access into new spaces of your own creativity. That's just the way it is. I've collaborated with many a beautiful wanderer on the musical road. Here are three projects that have lifted that desire into reality.
Meklit is guest Musical Director for UnderCover Presents: A Tribute to the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. 15 Bay Area bands honor the legend herself, while exploring female voices and storytelling in music, hip-hop, and the creative community. Epic!
Video: Phone Home, Recorded in Gondar and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia + San Francisco, California
Bio written by Nnedi Okorafor, resident Naijamerican novelist alien sorceress
This audio investigative file has been automatically translated from 5th generation Amharic patois.
Warning: Please be advised that hazards are inherent if you involve yourself with CopperWire, even indirectly. The spacecraft has been stolen. By involving yourself in any way with the fugitive CopperWire, you do so with the understanding of the potential risks and permanent damage to your reputation as an accepted law-abiding citizen.
Abducted Spacecraft: Copperwire
Current Location: Unknown Region
Destination: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Africa, Earth, Solar System, Milky Way Galaxy
The story started here. In the spacecraft stolen from our planet. When there is a will there is a way. Ask Professor Askala Bilaq a.k.a. Scholar Black, for it was his idea to steal the spacecraft. “You can’t get anywhere without a vehicle,” he once told a friend outside a music shop. If you encounter him, do not look him in the eye. It is not clear what will set him off. The choice of destination was Getazia’s. “I have my reasons,” was all he said to Scholar Black outside an oxygen shop not long before they stole the CopperWire spacecraft. Reports describe Getazia as “one with many faces”. And it was Ko Ai who hacked into CopperWire’s mainframe and reprogrammed it to fly to the planet earth. All recordings of anything she’s publically spoken have been mysteriously deleted from inter-planetary government files.
The Crew of Rogues:
Burntface as Askala Bilaq a.k.a. Scholar Black
Scholar Black is best known as the worldly mad scientist of threatening words and ideas. He’s always had a taste for discovering and collecting ancient artifacts. However, to him, what is “ancient” is relative. Thus, there are times when he travels into the future to find relics of the past. This has never been a problem for him because he somehow has the uncanny ability to find the local time-machine, no matter the planet or remote location of the time machine. Originally from earth, he’s hitchhiked on many ships, walked through hundreds of different types of desert and forests, and met all kinds of people. This is his first ship-jacking. He’s good at it. This will not be his last.
Gabriel Teodros as Getazia 13 Zeritoicus-Oxygen, or Getazia for short
Getazia is the child of an astronaut earthling human mother and an alien father from a local water planet called Zeritoicus. Getazia has never been to earth. His unique gills make it so that he can breathe in water and in outer space; his telepathy allows him to hear far and wide. He has been content travelling the galaxies…up until recently. While on a local moon watching two suns rise, he smelled an unfamiliar scent. He described it to Scholar Black and Ko Ai as “spicy and smoky”. This was when he started ranting and raving that it was time he went to the African part of Earth. He believes the human beings there need him.
Meklit as Ko Ai
Ko Ai is of the Koahn people, a messenger species who exhibit the half-particle/half-wave dynamics of quantum physics, even at non-quantum sizes. Born in a supernova, Ko Ai now swims through electrical networks, audible acoustic and electromagnetic waves and digital signals. She is adept as a mermaid darting through the ocean. She is a new kind of elemental, and she has problematic revolutionary ideas. Like Scholar Black, she is a time traveler, but she does it more out of joy than for research. Ko Ai has visited the planet earth twice and skated on high-powered radio waves through the winds of Jupiter’s eye. There is documentation of this. When last on earth, documentation shows that she had a habit of messing around with electrical systems and she most enjoyed turning on the lights.
It began for Meklit and Quinn, to hear them tell it, late one night in San Francisco’s Mission district. The
time was early 2010, and they were busy building their names as two of the Bay Area’s best loved
performers: Meklit as a radiant singer whose talents would soon carry her to her East African homeland
and beyond; Quinn as the oaky-sweet voice of an Oakland soul troupe, the Blue Beat Revue, whose look
and sound would have fit right in at New Orleans’ Dew Drop Inn circa 1954.
They met at an old storefront experimental venue, now defunct. It was past closing time, but the owner
let them stay. They chatted, and sang, and ended up trading tunes and improvisations until 4am. Meklit
asked Quinn to open a show celebrating her first album’s release, later that spring.
After her set that night, he came back onstage to join her for an encore. And it was then that their musical marriage was made firm, under the sign of Sam Cooke. “We sang ‘Bring it on Home’,” Meklit recalls, “and that, I think, was that.”
Two years later we have Meklit & Quinn. A “soul record,” certainly. A project born of a shared feel for
that idiom’s sounds. But not a suite of songs by its greats (although they couldn’t lay off that Sam
classic, and another by Stevie Wonder). Nor an album of originals (although there are three of them
here, including a toothsome groove, “Sent by You,” damp as the paper napkin they wrote it on). No.
This is something else. A record comprised, as Quinn says, of “tunes that we could wear.”
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