Meklit Hadero: Social engagement through music


Meklit Hadero
Meklit Hadero Photo by Ibra Acke; Art Direction by Wangechi Mutu
Meklit Hadero is an Ethio-American vocalist, singer-songwriter and composer, making music that sways between cultures and continents. Known for her electric stage presence, innovative take on Ethio-Jazz, and fiery, emotive live shows, Hadero has rocked stages from Addis Ababa (where she is a household name) to San Francisco (her beloved home-base) and beyond.

Hadero will be in residence March 26-29 at Harvard. She will offer to events: an ArtsBites food-and-discussion series for undergrads (RSVP required) at 12 p.m. March 27 at the Office for the Arts, and she will join Alicia Anstead NF '08, associate director for programming at the Office for the Arts and arts journalist, for a public conversation about the role of music in civic leadership and activism, 6-7 p.m. Wednesday, March 27 at the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School. The HKS event is free and open to the public. All are welcome.

Her visit is a joint program of Learning from Performers at the Office for the Arts, the Department of Music and the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School. 

Hadero's fame in Ethiopia skyrocketed in 2015 when her TED talk went viral in the country and her music videos began playing daily on multiple Ethiopian television stations. She goes back to Addis Ababa regularly to perform.

Hadero's album - When the People Move, the Music Moves Too received rave reviews and quickly reached #4 on the iTunes World Music Charts, #1 on the NACC World Charts and #12 on the World Charts in Europe. It was also named one of the 100 Best Albums of 2017 by the Sunday Times UK, one of the Best Soul Albums of 2017 by Bandcamp and amongst the 10 Best Bay Area albums of 2017 by KQED. These 11 songs were deeply inspired by Mulatu Astatke (the Godfather of Ethio-Jazz). Back in 2011, he told Hadero, "Find your contribution to Ethio-Jazz and keep on innovating!" Produced by multi-GRAMMY winning artist/songwriter Dan Wilson (Adele, John Legend, Dixie Chicks), the album also features world renowned musicians Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the violinist/whistler Andrew Bird.

Hadero is a TED Senior Fellow and her TED Talk, The Unexpected Beauty of Everyday Sounds, has been watched by more than 1.2 million people. She has received musical commissions from Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the MAP Fund and has toured extensively across the US, UK, and East Africa. Meklit has been an artist-in-residence at NYU, and collaborated with NASA Kepler Co-Investigator Dr. Jon Jenkins (and his star sounds), musical legend Pee Wee Ellis and members of the BBC Philharmonic. She is a Co-Founder of the Nile Project, served as musical director for the beloved Bay Area powerhouse UnderCover Presents, and sang alongside Angelique Kidjo and Anoushka Shankar as a featured singer in the UN Women Theme Song.

Hadero sits on the board of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, on the Artist Council of the de Young Museum, and is a graduate of Yale University.