I met renowned author Walter Mosley backstage at West Coast Live in 2010, and we became fast friends. While we were recording the 2014 album We Are Alive, he spent three days with us in the studio - reminding us that a good studio session is always a hang - and subsequently wrote the liner notes to the record. Here are his very kind words. Thank you, dear Walter.
SEEKING A UNIFIED FIELD
"One day, over a year ago, I was having a conversation with Meklit. I don’t remember what we were talking about exactly but it probably had to do with business versus the heart of art. Out of nowhere, it seemed, she turned to me and said, “You know, Walter, GPS satellites, between the theories of Special and General Relativity, run thirty-six microseconds faster than any earthbound clock each day. They have to be constantly reset in order to do their job.”
This comment, I remember, put whatever it was we were discussing into startling perspective. She was saying, in essence, that the world doesn’t bend for us, that we must make ourselves a part of the greater whole in all of its fluctuations and deviations.
I wasn’t surprised by the unexpected insight because I had come to understand that Meklit’s mind is always soaring above the world we think we know. Her music, her politics, her deft and generous understanding of a world constantly in motion all transcend the mundane, the expected and clichéd reactions that most of us are programmed with. Like an elder jazz musician or quintessential classical composer she always hits just the right note.
And she has quite a range to choose from. Her voice runs easily over two and a half octaves, from that sweet high note down into the blues register; her culture is somewhere between Ethiopia and the East Bay; and her mind moves effortlessly from Einstein to the banal task of finding your way home via GPS. Meklit is constantly bringing together the tattered corners of a disparate and fragmented world.
We Are Alive proves all of that and more. This musically exquisite collection of songs does for popular culture what Einstein wanted to do for General Relativity and electromagnetism: it brings together the so-called genres of music with continents of feeling across an ocean of lament; it celebrates our blood and our secret minds all the while exposing our frail humanity in light of the immortal compassion of the human heart. These are love songs, certainly, but not the trivial fare of wanting my baby back or hot bodies rockin’ in the moonlight. We Are Alive is about the passion of life, about the wonder and the capacity for hope in all women and men drawing us together in arrangements at once so raw and so sophisticated that one may just begin to believe that it is possible to live in this world, in these skins, without conceding to institutionalized terrorism or the Company Store.
Like Johnny Mathis, Billie Holiday, and the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald Meklit has taken all that jazz has to offer and then broadcast it back to us in a popular mode. We don’t have to reach for her music because it beckons to us. We don’t have to be trained in order to understand the highly-developed themes of her lyrics because Meklit’s music is a spiritual gravity for our hearts. She spins her songs and we drift unerringly toward a common center."
-Walter Mosley, March 2014