Average read time: 5 minutes.
Mereba has lived all over America. She grew up in Alabama and moved to Pennsylvania and Georgia in her early adulthood. But there’s no place she holds dearer to her heart than Ethiopia. She moved to the country and lived there as a teenager before returning to the United States. Her time there was unique and although was not very long, it had a massive impact on her.
“Ethiopia is completely different from any other place that I’ve lived. It was a life-changing experience. Honestly, I feel it was overdue and I do wish that I’d been able to have even more experience living in my homeland. I think that it’s just different there as far as the priorities go. I noticed that it’s a very family-oriented community. The importance is placed on loving each other in a really tangible, physical way and that’s just the type of person that I am,” explains Mereba.
The Jungle is the only way out (2013) singer adds that it was simply beautiful to live somewhere where she felt like who she is naturally aligns with how people operate. “Living in America, work is usually placed first and you’re on the productivity wheel, so it was nice to hop off of that for a little bit and just slow down. Ethiopia was a place where I could take in family and things that mean the most in this life and live through that lens,” she adds.
The talented 30-year-old muso, who not only sings, raps and plays guitar, but writes and produces music too, is deeply connected to her Ethiopian roots through her father (who is from the country). He was an incredibly influential figure in her life and they had a very close relationship. He passed away four years ago and so it became even more important to her to highlight her Ethiopian heritage in her remarkable new E.P. AZEB.
The project title is her middle name, given to her by her dad, and it means “where the sun rises”. Speaking about the significance of the title, the 30-year-old singer says, “my culture and my people mean so much to me. I carry that everywhere I go. I’m excited to have a project that’s exclusively named after that name and people that are from there will know and understand what it means.”
The country left a positive imprint on her personally as well as on her music. She has carried that ancestry inside her and now feels that it has translated into her songs. “I think Ethiopia opened up my senses and my palate to a different way of living. It put me in touch with my spiritual side, my voice, my music and my purpose. I feel like it is an ancient place that people go to from all over the world to absorb its spiritual and historical essence. When I went to America, I had a much clearer vision of what my purpose is. I think it shifted me into wanting to make music that speaks to people, helps them feel free and more in touch with themselves, their community and their ancestry,” explains Mereba.
The project was created during the initial wave of the Pandemic in 2020. Mereba was stuck at home with no touring schedule or concerts, so the quiet time allowed her to reflect and process her emotions. And through her music, she passes the torch to her fans to do the same.
“I hope that my music can kind of be a soundtrack for people’s personal evolution. I want people to take away something about themselves or feel seen and understood in the music,” concludes the songstress.
Watch Mereba’s single ‘Rider’ here:
Words | Lee Nxumalo @leewritesalot
Editor | Nikki Temkin @NikkiTemkin
Images | Breyona Holt and Interscope Records