If Joni Mitchell were East African, sang duets with Norah Jones and met Nina Simone for tea in San Francisco, it just might remind you of MEKLIT. Born in Ethiopia, based in San Francisco for the past nine years, singer/composer/cultural activist Meklit became a sensation with the release of her debut “On a Day Like This ” in April 2010. An enchanting album featuring luminous, original songs, and some traditional Amharic music as well. It got rave reviews across the board. NPR called Hadero’s sound, “a unique blend of jazz, Ethiopia, the San Francisco art scene and visceral poetry ; it paints pictures in your head as you listen.” PBS said “You’ll hear hints of Billie Holliday, Tracy Chapman and Joni Mitchell in her music but Hadero is her own unique creation.” And the San Francisco Chronicle called Meklit ”...an artistic giant in the early stages . She is stunning.”
For the past three and a half years, her frequent live shows have run the gamut, including: • Major festivals (Monterey Jazz, SXSW, Bumbershoot, Nuits d’Afrique) • Performing arts centers (SFJAZZ Center, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Skirball Center, Southbank Centre) • Clubs (le Poisson Rouge, the Independent – SF, the Mint – LA, Mayne Stage – Chicago) • University residencies (NYU, UC San Diego). • The TED Conference in Long Beach, TED Global in Edinburgh, and will be performing at TED Women this coming December in San Francisco. Meklit is a TED Senior Fellow. Please note these are the main TED conferences put on by the TED organization, and not the independently organized TEDx events. • In March 2013, Meklit completed a successful artist residency in London, including a sold out gig at Vortex Jazz Club, a packed performance at the Women of the World festival at the SouthBank Centre (for 1200 people) and a sell-out Eritrean club. Meklit appeared on five different BBC radio programs in under two weeks, including a performance and interview on the enormously popular “Women’s Hour.”
Meklit’s special participations cut a wide swathe. She was a guest in Pee Wee Ellis’ (James Brown’s longtime musical director) African tribute to James Brown at the Hollywood Bowl, where she sang a sizzling rendition of “Cold Sweat”. She is a core voice in the theme song for UN Women (along with such notables as Anoushka Shankar , Angelique Kidjo, Rokia Traore, and Buika). She performed Beck’s “The Title of This Song” at San Francisco’s premier live magazine PopUp, sharing the stage with Beck himself, as well as Devendra Bandhart, John C Riley, Dan the Automator and more.
She continues to break down genres, whether covering indie pop-rock hits and making them her own , adapting traditional or popular Ethiopian songs , or collaborating on a hip-hop space opera or in her own exquisite and original solo work. In any case, as SFJAZZ says “Meklit has truly established herself as a modern queen of soul.“
Meklit’s new album on Six Degrees, produced by Eli Crews (tUnE-yArDs) is due out March 2014.