Immigrants move to a new country for a guarantee: That life can be better in ways that were impossible in the home country. This is certainly true for Meklit Hadero, an Ethiopian-born woman who, through her immigrant experience as well as her talent, became an intriguing artist in the US.
Immigration is inherently a traumatic experience, but like anything dealing with change it opens up opportunities that were impossible before. Opportunities like becoming an artist, collaborating with musicians from all over the world, and creating works that dissolve ancient borders between neighbors through art and song. Ethiopian Culture is one of the earliest in humanity with its own rich palate of art, cuisine, and literature. The migration of the Ethiopian people didn’t begin till the 60’s and then was tied to tragedy from revolution, violence, and famine. A vibrant, complex culture was framed as a simple story of need and corruption.
Meklit works on reformatting that representation to showcase the complexity and evolution of the Ethiopian Diaspora. Her music combines Jazz, R&B, Ethiopian Soul, and collaborations with fellow East and North African neighbors in The Nile Project to educate and inspire a global audience. They also inspire and empower the Ethiopian Diaspora to see an artist who is showing their culture’s evolution from history and tragedy to a multifaceted participant in the 21st century global conversation.
Over the past year, Meklit visited KEXP twice, once to share songs from her 2014 album, We Are Alive, and, most recently, to participate with The Nile Project. This is Meklit Hadero’s Immigrant Song:
About Immigrant Songs:
Immigrant Songs is a series presented and produced by KEXP, with support from The Vilcek Foundation. Through in-studio performances, interviews with local and national artists, and other written content, co-curators and DJs Darek Mazzone and Chilly will explore the immigrant experience. Read more stories here.
About The Vilcek Foundation:
The Vilcek Foundation was established in 2000 by Jan and Marica Vilcek, immigrants from the former Czechoslovakia. The mission of the foundation, to honor the contributions of foreign-born scholars and artists living in the United States, was inspired by the couple’s careers in biomedical science and art history, respectively, as well as their personal experiences and appreciation for the opportunities they received as newcomers to this country. The foundation awards annual prizes to immigrant biomedical scientists and artists and sponsors cultural programs such as the Hawaii International Film Festival. To learn more, visit Vilcek.org.