An exceptional cross-cultural collaboration, The Nile Project’s members hail from all along the great river that connects eleven countries and over 400 million people, from its sources beyond Lake Victoria to its delta in Egypt.

Resonant harps and lyres from up and down the river have learned new musical modes, while buzzing timbres and ingenious polyrhythms support vocals in more than ten languages. Instruments that parted ways millennia before are reunited and pushed into new places. Love songs have crossed geographic and linguistic barriers to forge new, close friendships.

“The Nile project is unusual in so many ways, its scope and ambition, its shifting cast of characters, and its powerful focus, not on an artist, genre or country, but on an entire region.” –Afropop Worldwide

A powerful pan-Nile percussion section drives this orchestra of Ethiopian masenko (single-stringed bowed lute) and saxophone; Egyptian ney (end-blown flute), oud (pear-shaped, lute-like stringed instrument), violin, simsimiyya (plucked lyre), and tanbura (long-necked stringed instrument); and Ugandan adungu (arched harp), bass guitar; and vocalists singing in almost a dozen languages. NPR named Aswan, the project’s debut album, one of the “Five Must-Hear International Albums” of the year. The project inspires, educates, and empowers Nile citizens to work together to boost the sustainability of their ecosystem, and it unites musicians to learn from one another and translate their common experience into music composed collectively.

“A committed, euphoric international coalition.”
—The New York Times


Founded by two San Francisco-based East Africans, the Nile Project began in 2011 in response to the deepening water conflict in the Nile Basin. In a few years, the vision of Egyptian ethnomusicologist Mina Girgis and Ethiopian-American singer Meklit Hadero rapidly expanded to bring together musicians of all 11 Nile countries through Nile Gatherings and African and international tours. Building on the success of its musical program, The Nile Project leads education, leadership, and innovation initiatives to empower university students around the world with the tools they need to make the Nile more sustainable.

Mohamed Abozekry: Despite his tender years, this oud player has a stunning command of his instrument, as well as an open ear for other forms, skills that got him a recent album deal with Harmonia Mundi.

Micheal Bazibu: A member of Uganda’s leading traditional music and dance company, Ndere, for the past 17 years, Bazibu plays several traditional Ugandan stringed and percussion instruments with virtuosic grace.

Hany Bedair: When the biggest stars in the Middle East need daff (hand drum) or riq (traditional tambourine), they call Bedair, whose percussion skills have also earned him a teaching position at several respected Cairo institutions.

Dafaalla El Hag: Born in Oum Dourman and based in Khartoum, Sudan, Dafaalla El Haj is a diverse multiinstrumentalist and head of the Sundanese Traditional Music Center.

Nader El Shaer: Born in the culturally rich town of Port Said, Egypt, El Shaer taught himself accordion and ney , only to fall in love with the tones of the kawala (end-blown cane flute) and its role in Arabic classical music.

Dina El Wedidi: With experience that spans Arabic classical music, edgy theater, and street protest, this young singer has most recently worked with Brazilian heavyweight Gilbert Gil on her debut album.

Jorga Mesfin: This self-taught sax player meshes jazz with Ethiopia’s wealth of musical forms and ideas, both as a respected band leader and favorite sideman for greats like Mulatu Astatke.

Kasiva Mutua: Kenyan percussionist and singer Mutua may have learned drumming from her grandmother, but has developed her own knack for powerful Afropop beats. Her expressive playing can tell a story on its own, or keep a band perfectly in the pocket.

Sophie Nzayisenga: The first female master of the Rwandan traditional zither ( inanga ), Nzayisenga learned at her internationally acclaimed father’s knee before setting out to make the instrument her own.

Dawit Seyoum: Known for his flexibility, Seyoum rocks both the krar and the bass krar , the sixstring
powerhouse harps at the heart of much of Ethiopia’s music.

Selamnesh Zemane: Hailing from a long line of unique culture bearers in Northern Ethiopia, this young singer has brought her traditions to collaborations with indie darlings like Debo Band and The Ex.

Nile Project Team

Mina Girgis:
President & CEO
An Egyptian ethnomusicologist with background in hospitality experience design, Mina explores new ways to cultivate environments conducive to learning, making, and experiencing music. He specializes in curating and producing innovative musical collaborations across diverse styles.

Miles Jay:
Musical Director
A contrabassist, composer, and arranger, Miles has worked with the likes of Youssou N’Dour, Ziad Rahbani, Fathy Salama, Ross Daly, Naseer Shamma, Niyaz, Mashrou3 Leila, and the Cairo Symphony Orchestra.

Andrew Reissiger:
Music Program Manager
A multimedia producer, recording engineer, musician, and arts administrator, Andrew directs and manages the day to day of the Nile Project music program.