5 Things with.......Meklit

Meklit is an Ethio-American vocalist, singer-songwriter and composer, making music that sways between cultures and continents. 

EC1 / Take us back to your first Live (paid) performance where/when was it and what do you remember about it?

My first ticketed paid show was at a place called Balazo Gallery in San Francisco in 2006. I think I had written maybe one or two songs at that point and it was before I started playing guitar. That night, I sang mostly Jazz standards. We worked so hard to prepare and the place was packed and full of love.

I remember I wore this long yellow dress and a bright yellow flower in my hair. After that show, it was almost a year before I did a performance that big again... But when I did, it was all my own songs. That was a major year of growth.

EC2 / You have the opportunity to record a song with any artist (dead or alive) who would it be and why?

Too hard to choose one! Aster Aweke, because she has one of the greatest voices of all time. David Bowie - because he was always so courageous with his music. Stevie Wonder, because no one expresses love like Stevie. Mulatu Astatke, because he is a true innovator and one of my greatest inspirations.

EC3 / Fear, they say all performers experience it. Do you or have you.? Do you have any rituals which get you prepared and focus? 

It's not really fear per se, but sometimes everyone gets nervous. It got a lot better for me when I started to consider all performances as equal. I refuse to think that a big festival is more important than a small club show. No! Every time you perform, you give your full heart to the audience.

Every audience member deserves your best as a performer. When you approach things with that equality you cannot feel intimidated by a big stage. Those people get the same show as the hometown concert where everyone already loves you. Also - nerves are extra energy for you to work with. You can use them to really make yourself big on stage and handle a large crowd.

EC4 / Who has been the biggest inspiration on your journey and how/why? 

My biggest inspirations are my parents. They taught me to always work incredibly hard and always keep moving towards your goals. I honor their dedication, intelligence, and fierce persistence. They are amazing!

EC5 / Compile your top 5 in Fashion & Music  

Fashion inspirations: Right now my biggest fashion inspiration is Ruth Carter, the costume designer for Black Panther. There are a lot of stylists who are big inspirations to me, including Delilah Hailecristos and Kalu, two Ethiopian stylists based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In terms of music, some big inspirations are my band members  - who are all amazing musicians. Other inspirations include Jorga Mesfin (Ethio-Jazz saxophonist), Tasew Wendim (washint player), Sara Tavares (from Portugal and Cape Verde), Georgia Anne Muldrow (emcee, singer, and producer), Somi (Ugandan-Rwandan Jazz artist), Alsarah (Sudanese singer and composer). There are so many that I love!

Willber Willberforce was speaking to Meklit

Meklit Music