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Ethiopian-born musician Meklit Hadero has been blending the music of Ethiopia, her birth country, with the jazz of the US, where she lives now. And now she’s stepping it up– not only does she have a new group made up of other Ethiopia diaspora musicians , but she recently received a TED senior fellowship for something she calls “the Nile Project.” It would bring together musicians from countries on the Nile rivers, who would sail down the river on a boat, performing for onlookers on the banks.
Hadero tells Here & Now‘s Sacha Pfeiffer that she gets a range of reactions when she travels back to her native Ethiopia and performs.
“Some people come up to me and say you know we feel like you’re representing us in a way we’ve never been represented before… we’re proud of you,” she said. “Others say please sing more songs in [Ethiopia’s native language] Amharic. It’s about wanting to see themselves represented.”
Hardero has even received advice from famed Ethiopian musician Mulatu Astatke.
“What he said to me was, ‘You keep innovating. Make your sound. Maybe you’re still developing it, maybe you don’t know what it is yet, but it’s made of many things and you keep innovating,'” she said.
This interview originally aired in August, 2011.