Born in Ethiopia, raised in the U.S. (including Cedar Rapids) and nurtured by San Francisco’s diverse arts scene, Meklit Hadero embodies far-flung worlds. Joining her soul-filled phrasing with a songwriter’s craft, her influences range wide: from the jazz and soul favorites she grew up on; to the hip-hop and art-rock she loves; to folk traditions from the Americas and East African home of her forebears. But her singular sound and vibe are all her own.
Meklit’s parents (both doctors) fled the Derg regime in Ethiopia when she was 1 year
old. The family was granted asylum in the US and located near Cedar Rapids where Meklit’s parents practiced medicine.
The brand new album, We Are Alive, features 11 Meklit originals, a cover of The Police’s “Bring On The Night” and a traditional Ethiopian tune “Kemekem.” The album runs a stylistic gamut from Ethiopian and Sudanese rhythms to New York jazz and San Francisco folk to Radiohead. Producer Eli Crews (tUnE-yArDs, Deerhoof, Geographer) helped guide the album’s spirit of innovation and sonic dexterity.
Meklit erupted to national notice with the 2010 release of On a Day Like this… on Porto Franco Records. Hailed by Filter magazine for “[combining] New York jazz with West Coast folk and African flourishes, all bound together by Hadero’s beguiling voice,” the release announced the arrival, as the San Francisco Chronicle put it, of “an artistic giant in the early stages” and garnered feature stories from NPR, PBS and National Geographic.
The journey that brought Meklit to this stage included many stops. Born in Ethiopia in the early 1980s, she grew up in Iowa, New York and Florida. After studying political science at Yale, she moved to San Francisco and became immersed in the city’s thriving arts scene. “She sings of fragility, hope and self-empowerment, and exudes all three,” wrote a Chronicle reporter. “What’s irresistible, above all, is her cradling, sensuous, gentle sound. She is stunning.”
Named a TED Global Fellow in 2009, Meklit has served as an artist-in-residence at New York University, the De Young Museum and the Red Poppy Art House. Meklit has also completed musical commissions for the San Francisco Foundation and for theatrical productions staged by Brava! For Women in the Arts. She is the founder of the Arba Minch Collective, a group of Ethiopian artists in diaspora devoted to nurturing ties to their homeland through collaborating with both traditional and contemporary artists there.
Meklit’s band includes Darren Johnston on trumpet, Lorca Hart on drums and Jeff Denson on acoustic bass.
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