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Meklit's 'Kemekem' video serves up brassy blues

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The Ethiopian-born, San Francisco-based Meklit—pronounced “muh-kleet,” for when you inevitably tell friends about her at your next dinner party—produces a fascinating blend of folk, jazz, and blues that’s informed by her experiences beyond the stage: Meklit became a TED Global Fellow in 2009, and used her influence to co-found Nile Project with an Egyptian ethnomusicologist, designed to connect musicians from across the Nile Basin.

But Meklit also draws on heavily on modern alternative sounds, citing Radiohead melodies in addition to traditional Sudanese rhythms as influences for her new album, We Are Alive, which came out last month. She teamed with Oakland soul artist Quinn DeVeaux in 2012 for a covers album featuring songs written by Arcade Fire, Talking Heads, MGMT, and Sam Cooke, and for We Are Alive she recruited Tune-Yards collaborator Eli Crews for some studio wizardry.

The result is a mildly experimental but wildly groovy style of music. “Kemekem (I Like Your Afro)” will make you want to jump up and dance, just like the office-bound professionals in the music video do. EW has an exclusive premiere of the music video below, along with Meklit’s upcoming tour dates.

April 23: Center for the Performing Arts – Penn State University

April 26: Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center – University of Maryland

May 2: McCarter Theater – Princeton University