Meklit is an Ethio-American vocalist, songwriter, composer and cultural activist, 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, Montreal, Nairobi, Rome, Zurich, Helsinki, Rio, Cairo, and more.
Meklit is Chief of Program at YBCA (Yerba Buena Center for the Arts), as well as a National Geographic Explorer, and a TED Senior Fellow.
She has collaborated with Kronos Quartet, musical legend Pee Wee Ellis, and completed artist residencies at Harvard, NYU and Purdue. She has received musical commissions from Lincoln Center and the MAP Fund, and is a featured singer in the UN Women theme song. Meklit’s TED Talk has been watched by more than 1.2 million people, and her music videos air daily on Ethiopian National Television. Meklit’s latest album “When the People Move, the Music Moves Too” (Six Degrees Records) reached #4 on the iTunes World Charts, #1 on the NACC World Charts and #12 on the World Charts in Europe. It was named one of the 100 Best Albums of 2017 by the Sunday Times UK, and one of the Best Soul Albums of 2017 by Bandcamp. These 11 songs were deeply inspired by Mulatu Astatke (the Godfather of Ethio-Jazz). Back in 2011, he told Meklit, “find your contribution to Ethio-Jazz and keep on innovating!” Produced by multi-GRAMMY winning artist/songwriter Dan Wilson (Adele, John Legend), the album also features world renowned musicians Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the violinist/whistler Andrew Bird. She is Co-Founder of the Nile Project and holds a BA in Political Science from Yale University.
“You may not have heard Meklit’s music before, but once you do, it’ll be tough to forget. Her sound is a unique blend of jazz, Ethiopia, the San Francisco art scene and visceral poetry; it paints pictures in your head as you listen.” – NPR