Best of 2017


Last night at Lincoln Center, Meklit came to conquer. Rocking a sassy kente cloth skirt and black top, the ex-Brooklynite Ethio-jazz belter bounded and whirled across the stage, singing in both English and Amharic, leading a tight six-piece band through a passionate, fiery, subtly relevant mix of mostly new songs from her forthcoming album When the People Move, the Music Moves Too. Freed from behind her acoustic guitar – at least for most of the set – she’s found new vocal power in her low register, and commands the stage like never before." - NEW YORK MUSIC DAILY

Meklit was named the highlight of WOMAD’s Sunday programming by Rhythm Passports UK.  "Meklit is a performer of 21st-century Ethio-jazz... And what a beautiful spectacle it was: thriving, thumping, thunderous jazz, with a melodic, melismatic trill to her stunning voice. It was so unique and characteristic that there was no confusing Meklit’s jazz with others’. She was accompanied by a stunning saxophonist and davul (large double-headed drum) player, who together raised the roof with groovy rhythms, talented solos and also demanded silence from the crowd in the most intimate and precious moments. Meklit is a performer to treasure and remember." - RHYTHM PASSPORTS UK


Meklit is an Ethio-American vocalist, singer-songwriter and composer, making music that sways between cultures and continents. Known for her electric stage presence, innovative take on Ethio-Jazz, and her emotive live shows, Meklit has rocked stages from Addis Ababa (where she is a household name) to San Francisco (her beloved home-base), to NYC, London, DC, Montreal, Nairobi, Chicago, LA, Arusha, Rome, Zurich, Rio, Cairo, and many more. She is a National Geographic Explorer, and has been an Artist-in-Residence at Harvard, NYU, Purdue and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Meklit is also a TED Senior Fellow, and her TED Talk has been watched by more than 1.2 million people. She has collaborated with Kronos Quartet, musical legend Pee Wee Ellis (the creator of funk music) and NASA Kepler lead Jon Jenkins (and his star sounds). She is co-founder of the Nile Project and a featured voice in the UN Women theme song.

Press Quotes

“When was the last time you had an hour of solid joy? On this album, Meklit—a singer whose Ethiopian roots blend with the sounds of her San Francisco hometown—has created a cornucopia of music that will resonate with jazz fiends, pop fans, and everyone in between. Each track is completely different than the last...but all of them speak to the individuality of its singer, and her divine ability to keep the listener at attention.” - BANDCAMP: Best Soul Albums of 2017

"Brilliant." - NEW YORK MAGAZINE 

"A visionary on and off the bandstand...." SAN FRANCISCO MAGAZINE

"A wildly groovy style of music." - ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

- "...if you have any doubts that the musical styles of East Africa and the Bay Area can be melded with equal parts grit and grace, she'll knock them right out of you with vocals, horns and percussion — such exhilarating, heartbeat-propelling percussion — by the time the first chorus comes around." - NPR

- "You Need to Hear Meklit’s Ethiopian Cover of The Roots’ Classic “You Got Me” - OKAY AFRICA

- "...a rare artist...The album comprises knotted, earnest ruminations on finding one’s self, finding one’s loves, and anthems for the very act of making music... creating something compelling and wholly her own" - AFROPOP

"One of the best albums of 2017, bar none." NEW YORK MUSIC DAILY

THE NEW RECORD: WHen the People Move, the Music Moves too

Album Cover

Released in June 2017 on Six Degrees records, When The People Move, the Music Moves Too reached #4 on the iTunes World Music Charts, #1 on the NACC World Charts, #12 on the World Charts in Europe, and was named Best Soul Albums of 2017 by Bandcamp, Top 100 Albums of the year by the Sunday Times UK, and Top 10 Bay Area Albums of the year by KQED. The record was produced by multi-GRAMMY winning singer-songwriter/producer Dan Wilson (Adele, John Legend).  Mulatu Astatke - the Godfather of Ethio-Jazz, inspired this album with a directive to Meklit back in 2011. He told her, "find your contribution to Ethio-Jazz and keep on innovating!"  His words sparked these 11 celebratory songs, born of of a hyphenated Ethio-American identity, as San Francisco as they are Addis Ababa. The record features world renowned musicians Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the violinist/whistler Andrew Bird.


Meklit and her projects have been covered by:  Vibe Magazine, NPR, Bandcamp, The Sunday Times UK, The Wall St. Journal, The New Yorker, New York Times, WNYC, KEXP Seattle, AfroPop Worldwide, Songlines Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Sun Times, PBS, PRI’s The World, Time Out New York, BBC Radio 4 - Front Row, BBC Women's Hour, BBC World Service - Focus on Africa + Arts Daily, Seattle Times, Seattle Weekly, National Geographic World Music, Huffington Post, Filter Magazine, Le Presse (Montreal), MTV Iggy, OkayAfrica, The Village Voice, Google Music, Relix Magazine, Pidgeons and Planes, WIRED Magazine UK and many more. 

Photo by Tessa Shimizu

Photo by Tessa Shimizu

Photo by Elaine Luow Graham

Photo by Elaine Luow Graham


Meklit has played at The Apollo, Bumbershoot, SXSW, WOMAD, Skirball Center (NYC + LA), Southbank Centre (London 2013 + 2015), The Helsinki Festival, SFJazz Center, Moods (Zurich), The Kennedy Center, the Hollywood Bowl, Mulatu Astatke's Africa Jazz Village, the TED Conference, Monterey Jazz Festival, Nuits D’Afrique (Montreal), Triple Door, Vancouver Jazz Fest, The Monk (Rome), Davies Symphony Hall for Pop Up Presents the Beck Song-Reader (with Beck, Melody of China, John C. Riley), Nairobi's Blanket's and Wine Music Festival, Gondar Castles - World Heritage Site Ethiopia, Uganda National Theater, Aswan Cultural Palace, and many many more. 

TALKS: Meklit regularly does talks for universities, conferences, companies and organizations. She has spoken at

  • The United Nations, Nexus Global Summit, New York, NY (2013)

  • TED Global Conference, Oxford, UK (2009 + 2012)

  • TED Fellows Retreat, Monterey, CA (2015)

  • Keynote - Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) Wavelengths World Music Pre-Conference (2017)

  • Amplifon Conference, Paris, France (2016)

  • New York University (2011)

  • University of California, Merced (2018)

  • Carleton College, Northfield MN (2017)

  • University of Maryland, College Park, MD (2016)

  • Addis Ababa University, Department of Fine Arts, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (2016)

  • University of Missouri, Columbia, MO (2016)

  • Purdue University (2016) 

  • Black Portraiture Conference, New York, NY (2011)

Examples of talks include: 

  • The Unexpected Beauty of Everyday Sounds (TED Talk on

  • How Music Connects Us: Perspectives From Performance, Personal Story, and Psychology/Neuroscience Research.

  • World Music/American Sound: Immigrant Music and the American Identity

  • Skill-sets for Developing A Creative Career

  • Finding the Money: Financial Frameworks for A Creative Career

  • Cultural Activism and Global Citizenship

  • Meklit: Musician, Composer, Cultural Instigator

  • The History Of Ethio-Jazz  

  • How To Be A Bandleader: A DIY Approach to a Music Career

  • Creative Practice/Creative Approach

  • Women in Songwriting and Composing.