Meklit Hadero

The Center for the Arts presents
Friday, August 26
with Tiera Iasparo opening
8:00PM, $15 members, $18 non-member


You may not have heard Meklit Hadero\’s music before, but once you do, it\’ll be tough to forget. Hadero\’s 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\’s Tell Me More

One of our favorite new releases of 2010 – Tom Pryor, National Geographic World Music

Meklit Hadero combines N.Y. jazz with West Coast folk and African flourishes, all bound together by Hadero\’s beguiling voice, which is part sunshine and part cloudy day. – Nevin Martell, Filter MagazineSoulful, tremulous and strangely cinematic, Hadero\’s voice will implant scenes in your mind a softly lit supperclub, a Brooklyn stoop, a sun-baked road. Close your eyes, listen and dream. – Lynn Jacobson, Seattle Times

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Born in Ethiopia, raised in the U.S. and nurtured by San Francisco\’s richly diverse arts scene, Meklit Hadero embodies worlds. Joining her soul-filled phrasing to a songwriter\’s craft, her music\’s 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 her forebears\’ East African home. But this singular artist\’s sound, drawn of multitudes, is hers alone.

Emerging from her adopted hometown of San Francisco, Meklit erupted to national notice with the 2010 release of On a Day Like This. Hailed by Filter magazine for [combining] New York jazz with West Coast folk and African flourishes, all bound together by Hadero\’s beguiling voice, her full-length debut which also garnered feature-stories on its maker from NPR, PBS and National Geographic brought Meklit\’s music to a whole new audience. It also announced the arrival, as the San Francisco Chronicle has put it, of an artistic giant in the early stages.

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 after witnessing an early performance in the city\’s Mission District. What\’s irresistible, above all, is her cradling, sensuous, gentle sound. She is stunning. She hasn\’t looked back.

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.

Now touring in support of her debut album while nurturing plans for her next, along with numerous side-projects, Meklit is gracing renowned festivals and concert-halls worldwide. Most at home not in one place but many, she\’s an artist leaping from stage to stage before our eyes.In May, Meklit spent a month in Ethiopia traveling and performing with fellow Diaspora artists the Arba Minch Collective. Paying their own way there through an IndieGogo campaign, Meklit and the Collective performed ten shows in Ethiopia and one show in Nairobi, Kenya. About half the shows were performed free of charge by the artists.

Like members of Arba Minch, Meklit was born in Ethiopia, so this was a return to the land of their birth. In addition to playing music, they were there to create ties with traditional and contemporary artists awash in the burgeoning arts scene of the capital, Addis Ababa. Meklit and crew most notably connected with Mulatu Astatke, the Godfather of Ethio-Jazz.

In the city of Gondar, they played a spectacular impromptu show at the site of the ancient castle grounds of Emperor Fasilidas. The day was fraught with city-wide brownouts and pouring rain, and the show almost did not happen. A full hour and a half after the original start time of the show, the lights returned and Meklit and crew rushed to main town square at the foot of the towers to make the concert happen. Within thirty minutes, three hundred young people had gathered seemingly out of nowhere, cheering and ready for music. During the show, the city’s electricity went out again. The music cut, the crowd paused. Cars gathered to illuminate the performers with their headlights. Moments later, the lights returned and three hundred people roared with excitement.

The artists also played a free show in the town square of Harrar, a city in the East of Ethiopia, as well as at an orphanage for thirty HIV positive kids, and for the students at the Africa Jazz School. In both Harrar and Gondar, Arba Minch emcees Gabriel Teodros and Burntface put on the first ever hip-hop shows to be performed there.

I was amazed by the openness with which I and the Arba Minch Collective were received by the people of Ethiopia,” says Meklit. “With each trip East, I find that there is more and more space for us to be a true part of the culture, learning from it and growing profoundly from the encounter.

Listen to Meklit on WBUR\’s nationally syndicated program Here and Now (PRI) around the 3rd of August.

Meklit Hadero: voice, guitar
Darren Johnston: trumpet
Evan Flory-Barnes: upright bass
Darrell Green: drums

Tiera Iasparo is a 20 year old Neo Folk Artist home grown from the gold mining hills of Northern California. She puts  a unique spin on roots music weaving lyrical poetry and raw feeling throughout every song.  Her distict vocal delivery is pure and passionate underlined by moments of intense emotional release. Tiera’s upcoming sophomore album “The Sting” is due for release this month.


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