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Meet the Artist: Meklit Hadero

March 19, 2021

We first met Ethiopian American vocalist, musician, composer and activist Meklit Hadero when she came to Meany Center in 2015 as part of the Nile Project, a collaboration among musicians from the 11 countries bordering the Nile River.

In 2019, we invited Meklit to become a Meany Center Creative Research Fellow and commissioned her latest work, Movement, an exploration of global migration through music and the personal stories of musicians. Seamlessly mixing a live concert experience with scored storytelling and multimedia, Movement breaks down the barriers between “us” and “them,” and asks listeners to reconsider the question of who we mean when we say “we.”

The project relies heavily on engaging local immigrant musicians in every city where she appears to perform with Meklit. Meklit sought submissions from immigrant and refugee musicians in the Seattle area, including artists born in the U.S. who identify as part of an immigrant community. They could perform in any style or discipline — as a singer, instrumentalist, composer, emcee, etc. — and have any level of formal or informal musical training, including being self taught, as long as you have a song and story to share. 

We had planned to present the World Premiere of Movement in February, 2021; unfortunately, the pandemic forced us to cancel her live performance. During this time, Meklit engaged with students through the Department of Dance and the Horn of Africa Initiative. 

Through the power of Zoom, Meklit was still able to present a compelling talk on the power of music to connect us through the UW Graduate School’s Danz Lecture Series. In How Music Connects Us: Belonging, Wellbeing, and Sonic Lineage, presented by the Office of Public Lectures, Meklit Hadero explores how music knits people and communities together, bringing together creativity, wellness, and the power of collective narratives. Listen to the recorded lecture here.

Meanwhile, Movement is back on our schedule for the 2021–22 Season. Meklit has been busy choosing several artists who have come from all over the world and settled in Seattle to join her on our stage. At some point in the next several months, she’ll be here in residency to work with these local artists as well as the immigrant communities they represent. 

To learn more, listen to this episode of The World on PRI, hosted by Meklit Hadero and Movement