Sometimes the most passionate singers and musicians stem from their surroundings and various cultural influences. In the concert to come to Sophia’s Thai Kitchen this Thursday, Mekilt Hadero will be bringing a unique soulful and R&B vibe to the stand.
Meklit’s fascinating life has heavily contributed to her style of music. She was born in Ethiopia and lived there until she was one and one-half years old. After that, Meklit moved to Germany and eventually to the states. Meklit has lived in places such as Brooklyn, Florida, Seattle and finally San Francisco, which have all greatly influenced her life in music.
“There’s really no one place I call home,” Meklit said. “I sort of live in this constant state of home and also this state of discovery. So when you look at that kind of life it’s hard to imagine making one kind of music, because imagine being in every place and having such different people and such different types of music being played. I find that my own music is just a reflection of that life.”
Meklit’s musical influences range from jazz to soul, favorites she listened to while growing up. Other genres included hip-hop, rock and folk traditions from both America and East Africa. Because of this, Meklit’s sound is unique to only her.
“It brings those three together to create a sort of present-time music that reflects this sort of interesting, crazy life that I’ve had so far,” Meklit said.
Although she has been interested in music since the age of three, moving to San Francisco was when Meklit started to truly pursue music. She came to San Francisco in 2004 and started working hard to achieve her goals in music. She began taking voice lessons, started songwriting and playing guitar. Shortly after, she began performing in the Mission District in San Francisco through the Mission Arts Performance project. From there, she slowly developed an audience.
Meklit has even performed in Davis before at the N Street common house in the cooperative housing community. Due to its close proximity to San Francisco, she feels that there is no reason she cannot be present in Davis regularly.
“I met a whole community of artists who were deeply in their craft from all over the world,” Meklit said. “I was just really inspired to make music and to try and grow themselves artistically and creatively and I just got swept along in this community.”
As for her performance this Thursday, Meklit is not the average indie rock and folk bands that usually perform at Sophia’s.
“It’s great to have an artist like Meklit out and offer something a bit different than what you usually see here,” said Kevin Wan, booker and owner of Sophia’s Thai Kitchen. “Her music is definitely more on the jazz-world side than what we normally do. I think the crowd will dig it. The typical Sophia’s show-goer has a pretty high music IQ and enjoys everything-from old-time string bands to electronic pop. So, the African flourishes she puts on her jazz beats will go over real well, especially with our large international student crowd.”
Meklit’s voice has been compared to the great Nina Simone, who she considers to be an inspiration. According to NPR music, “Meklit’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.”
So far, Meklit has released an EP in 2007 and her first album in 2010, entitled On a Day Like This. As a result of this, she has been touring extensively over the past year and a half, performing everywhere, from little clubs to arts centers to universities and outdoor festivals.
In May, Meklit spent a month in Ethiopia traveling and performing with the Arba Minch Collective-a group of Ethiopian artists in Diaspora devoted to nurturing ties to their homeland by collaborating with artists there. They performed 10 shows in Ethiopia and one show in Nairobi, Kenya.
Two towns in Ethiopia stood out from her tour: Gondar and Harrar. In both places, the Arba Minch Collective performed free shows for the residents. They were received with excitement and openness. They also performed at an orphanage for HIV positive children. Needless to say, Hadero’s music has reached numerous places.
“Students are the most open music listeners,” Meklit said. “It’s cool to play in towns that have lots of students where you can connect with folks who are just expanding their worlds. That type of environment of openness is just so cool and I’m really excited about connecting with the Davis students.”
Meklit’s show starts at 8:30 p.m. with doors opening at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5 and are available at the door; it is a 21+ event.
PAAYAL ZAVERI can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.