Arts and culture work || 08.22.2010

Arts and Culture Work

The Nile Project

Wanna hear hip-hop and traditional musicians from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt collaborate to create a new sound? We do! Introducing the Nile Project….

Loosely based on the Silk Road Project (, we are exploring the intersection of ecology and culture across much of East Africa.

The Nile Project brings together musicians from the Nile cultures to play and record music, to tour down the river and its source lakes on a boat made of recycled water bottles, and to share an experience that will connect the peoples of the river.

We realized that though East Africa’s Nile cultures have shared millenia of history, today we do not know very much about each other. We decided to start this musical project so that the people of the river could get to know their neighbors through a mutual sharing of stories, sound, music, mythology, and culture. In 2013, we’ll also tour Europe and North America.

The Nile Project was created by Ethiopian-American singer-songwriter and Egyptian ethnomusicologist Mina Girgis.

How has the project gone so far?

After only a few short months, we are in talks with Lincoln Center’s David Rubenstein Atrium as our North American presenting partners, and Meklit got the TED Senior Fellowship with the Nile Project as her main fellowship focus. Things are really starting to roll!

Help us get to the river:

Meklit is a 2012 TED SENIOR FELLOW and will be attending the next 4 TED Conferences with the NILE Project as her main focus.

John Akomfrah and Meklit Hadero
THE AFRICAN DIASPORA AND/IN THE WORLD: An Artist Residency at NYU’s Institute of African American Affairs
Spring, 2011 – Please check the “SHOWS” page for residency events

The Institute of African American Affairs at NYU is proud to present a unique space of artistic collaboration between two great talents of the African Diaspoara.  Meklit Hadero, (musician), and John Akomfrah, (filmmaker) are at the cutting edge of their respective fields and their influences have spilled over in the other arts, philosophy and politics of new Pan-Africanism formations.

Meklit Hadero’s music is imbued with poetry, hybridized sounds of Tizita (haunting and nostalgic music) from Ethiopia, to the annals of folk songs, jazz and Rock & Roll. She, herself, aptly describes her music as emanating from “in-between-spaces.” Listening to Meklit Hadero transports us to the post-national space of Africa and America; inspiring us to bridge the frontiers between language, tribes and disciplines. Her songs celebrate the newness of life and the hyphens that bring us together.

John Akomfrah is without doubt the most gifted director coming out the Black British Film Collectives of the late 1980s and 1990s London scene. The mise-en-scene of his films posits in the foreground the difficult relations between sound and image, representation and absence, memorial archives and forgetfulness.  A true measure of Akomfrah’s genius, as a philosopher and poetic filmmaker, lies in his ability to have influenced a whole new generation of filmmakers from Africa, Europe and America who claim different and, often, contradictory aspects of his work.

NYU’s Institute of African American Affairs and Lincoln Center’s Meet the Artist Jointly Present
Resonate! African America in Sound and Story
a present-time exploration of multiplicity in the African Diaspora

Each performance is followed by a lively conversation moderated by co-developer and NYU Institute of African American Affairs Artist-in-Residence Meklit Hadero.

at David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center
Broadway between 62nd and 63rd Street

Wed April 6    Listening to Roots & Voicing Branches featuring Chanda Rule and Somi joined by Liberty Ellman on guitar.
Two inspirational songstresses redress intraracial tensions through song, (dis)harmony, and spoken word.

Wed April 13    Toshi Reagon
“One hellava rock’n’roller-coaster ride” – Vibe Magazine

Wed April 20    Nora Chipaumire
A visionary contemporary dance artist who speaks to the human condition with power, authority, and urgency.

Wed April 27    Danny Mekonnen and Adam Clark: And Lay Duo (world premiere)
Debo Band members perform traditional folk songs and original compositions inspired by the big band funk of 1970’s Ethiopia.


Meklit is a founder of the Arba Minch Collective.

The Arba Minch Collective is a group of artists, musicians, filmmakers, photographers, poets, creative writers and theater artists from the Ethiopian Diaspora living in North America. Their mission is to pioneer and establish a formal, long-term cultural exchange between the Ethiopian Diaspora, and Ethiopians living in Ethiopia. This exchange/cross-fertilization will be centered around a yearly trip Ethiopia, inaugurated in Deceember of 2009 and recurring annually.


Meklit is a TED Global Fellow. She recently attended the TED Global Conference at Oxford University with a group of 24 other fellows (including young artists, scientists, ngo leaders, and inspiring individuals from around the world), 50 speakers and 700 attendees.

The conference was nothing short of life-changing, and she will be regularly blogging as a part of the TED Fellows blog.

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design.


Meklit is an Artist Consultant for the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP). She is working with the organization to develop ways to integrate the artist voice more deeply into the APAP annual conference, the largest gathering of performing arts presenters in the world.


In June of 2009, Meklit Hadero and Todd Brown were artists-in-residence at the De Young Musem.

As Commissioned Artists, Brown and Hadero, worked on-site at the de Young’s Kimball Gallery to produce new works evolving from the inter-relationship of processes: painting, installation, soundscape and musical composition. At the heart of their collaborative work, Brown and Hadero utilized their mediums, and creative processes, to uncover and explore intangible qualities that engender meaningful human exchange. Of particular significance, is when that exchange is set within the context of globalization and the need for a broader and more encompassing vision of cultural and economic development.

Go to


A World Premiere Play
Written by Brian Thorstenson
Music Composed by Meklit Hadero
Directed by Raelle Myrick-Hodges

Meklit was commissioned by the Brava Theater and Director Raelle Myrick-Hodges to compose music and design sound for the world premier production of Brian Thorstensen’s play, Over the Mountain.

The story begins when a female writer is eventually detained, by her local government. She encounters two government clerks sent to interrogate her, and a human rights vs. government needs develops. Over the Mountain surpasses ideas of philosophy or political discussion. At its essence, it is about family – those created by birth and those developed by choice. It shows the human spirit at its worst and best. It also shows how the family we are born into can shape us, but may not completely define who we become in our communities. This piece asks questions in hopes of giving an audience a chance to evaluate its own contemporary caste systems, economic values and artistic worth within its society.

Go to for more information


In April of 2007, the Red Poppy Art House received a grant from the San Francisco Foundation and the Fund for Artists to commission a group of musicians – including Meklit, guitarist/composer-arranger, Todd Brown, South-Indian Carnatic Jazz composer/saxophonist, Prasant Radhakrishnan, and Ethiopian born hip-hop artist, Gabriel Teodros- on the composition of a body of music titled “Nefasha Ayer: The Space of In-between.”

Nefasha Ayer, loosely translated from Amharic as “the wind that travels”, explores a transcontinental odyssey of multiple characters who find themselves caught between national identities, cultures, and politics. Through its tones and colors, poetic texts and trans-cultural melodic scores, Nefasha Ayer joins the continents of Africa, South Asia, and America to explore the most essential and universal qualities shared among individuals worldwide whose identity no longer fits within the boundaries of one country, culture, or tradition. Whereas one would expect the content of such a project to focus on the social/cultural context of its characters, Nefasha Ayer builds on the internal: the subjective yet universal human desire for home. For these characters, “home” is no longer an external place – for some it never was. Home has taken shape instead as a longing within. This is “the space of in-between.”

Go to for more information!


Meklit has been a resident artist at the Art House since June of 2006!

2010 marks a decisive step towards placing resident artists at the very center of Art House life. Artists are invited to participate beyond the formal aspects of work development and presentation, and to engage the Art House as a place of informal connection and exchange, a space in which to relax, converse, meet friends and colleagues, share food and drinks – an essential space in which new relationships are born and deepen. Through the weaving of diverse social and artisitc networks, new dialogues emerge, furthering each of our understandings of the complex world of which we are a part.

It is critical that artists have this space. It is amazing to see what can evolve out of a sustained gathering of creative minds.