Oakland singer-songwriter Meklit has belted out funk with James Brown's saxophonist, covered indie rock hits with sweet soulman Quinn DeVeaux, and collaborated with musicians from across Northeast Africa for the Nile Project, a visionary NGO she co-founded. Her translucent voice finds a cozy home in every far-flung setting, but she’s never sounded as free and grounded as on When the People Move the Music Moves Too, which was released this past June on Six Degrees Records.
A creative breakthrough born out of bandstand experimentation, the album weaves together Meklit's Ethiopian roots with a propulsive menagerie of African-diaspora grooves. As the album’s title suggests, Meklit captures the way culture and beats evolve as people move across regions and continents. Her lyrics evoke the love and ache for worlds left behind, but tracks like the soaring opener "This Was Made Here" also speak to the ecstatic power of self-reinvention.
Recorded in Addis Ababa, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and San Francisco, the album is a collaboration with Grammy Award-winning LA songwriter and producer Dan Wilson, renowned for his work with Adele, the Dixie Chicks, and Taylor Swift. Rather than trying to fit the uncategorizable Meklit into a neat, pop niche, he expands her textural palette with guest artists Andrew Bird (on violin and whistling), the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and top-shelf session players from LA.