International and local stories of migration collide in a multimedia live music concert.
MOVEMENT Live combines the energy of a concert with the intimacy of storytelling, complete with rich visuals and immersive sound design, in a podcast come to life. The stories and songs explore ideas of a world in motion, defining identity, and what it takes to call a place home, hitting listeners at the level of the hips, the heart, and the head. The performance is led by Ethiopian-American musician and curator Meklit and features Abu Dhabi-raised Somali rapper, Freek; Al Ain-based Syrian singer-songwriter, Ghaliaa; and Dubai-based Filipino multi-instrumentalist Cromwell Ojeda. MOVEMENT Live is co-created by audio producer Ian Coss and directed by acclaimed Indian-American theater director Sophiyaa Nayar.
MOVEMENT Live is co-commissioned by The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi. It was co-commissioned by Meany Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Washington (Seattle) and debuted May 7, 2022. They are also co-commissioned by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance, and Cultural Arts Center at Montgomery College (Takoma Park/Silver Spring, MD).
Watch the Trailer
Bill Bragin Introduces the show
Meklit is an Ethio-American vocalist, songwriter and composer, known for her electric stage presence and innovative, deeply personal Ethio-Jazz songs. Her music has made her a star in her home country of Ethiopia, and most recent album was named amongst the best records of the year by Bandcamp and The Sunday Times UK, climbing to the top of the iTunes, NACC, and European World Charts.
Meklit is the Head of Creativity and Impact at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. She is a National Geographic Explorer, a TED Senior Fellow, and a former Artist-in-Residence at Harvard University, NYU and Purdue. She has collaborated with Kronos Quartet, Andrew Bird, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and the late musical legend Pee Wee Ellis. She is a Co-Founder of the Nile Project, and a featured singer in the UN Women Theme Song.
Meklit has played at numerous festivals and venues in the US, the UK and East Africa, including: Monterey Jazz Festival, Bumbershoot, SXSW, Southbank Centre, Hollywood Bowl, the Apollo, the Smithsonian, Kennedy Center, and many more. Her work has been covered by the New York Times, BBC, CNN, NPR, Washington Post, Seattle Times and many more.
Mustafa Ismail aka FREEK is a Somali rapper who is taking trap culture one step further in the United Arab Emirates and the Middle East. Though Arabic trap is spreading like wildfire, it is still in its early stages, making the 247k views that one of Freek’s videos garnered even more impressive. The eccentric rapper grew up skateboarding on the streets of Abu Dhabi from the age of 12, and reminisces about the days when all he had was his skateboard and mp3 player, though at that point it wasn’t hip-hop that was blaring through his headphones; before he got into hip-hop, Freek was a metal head, listening to bands such as Slipknot, Korn and Killswitch Engaged. He has always had a love for “hard beats”, but hip-hop lured him in due to the way it allows a person to express their feelings, stating that it is “deeper than any other genre”. He now incorporates the best of both worlds; the lyrical aspect of hip-hop and, “hard beats” that he loved about metal.
Ghaliaa is a Singer/Songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and record producer based in the UAE. Her greatest influence began at home where her family challenged her by constantly introducing new instruments to nourish her passion for music. By the age of 6, Ghaliaa had already fallen in love with 4 different instruments: drums, guitar, and piano. She began her career at the age of 16 by composing and writing lyrics , inspired by her life experiences that cover various delicate subjects. Known for her blissful vocals, she believes that music is a feeling rather than a language. She performs in multiple languages such as Arabic, English, French, Turkish, Armenian, and Spanish. Ghaliaa’s sound fuses R&B, hip-hop,, electropop, indie and jazz, forming her own unique take on storytelling, all characterized by a raspy voice and versatile highs.
Cromwell Ojeda balances two passions at the same time. By day, he is a senior graphic designer for the first nuclear energy power plant in the region. At night, he turns into a passionate artist pushing the boundaries of locally-produced music and elevating the Filipino brand in the process. His passion project, the Blacksheep Production which started in 2008, gave birth to the Filipino underground music scene in the emirates. With him at the helm, Blacksheep provided a platform for Filipino bands to play original music, shunning the stereotypical notion of Pinoy groups doing only covers. Blacksheep gave birth to its spin off – the Rocktoberfest, which is the longest running Filipino rock event in the Middle East. Under his own brand, Muhaisnah Four, Cromwell produces synth pop and chill wave music. He has performed with the region’s top artists from Lebanon, Egypt and Bahrain, and has played with international artist Princess Nokia, Daedelus, Dam Funk, Knxwledge, Jessy Lanza, Earl Sweatshirt to name a few.
Ian Coss is an audio producer whose work spans the worlds of music, podcasting and sound art. His original series “Forever is a Long Time” was named one of the best podcasts of 2021 by The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Apple Podcasts. As a founding member of PRX Productions, he has produced and scored several limited series with the Radiotopia network — Ways of Hearing, The Great God of Depression, Over the Road, and Blind Guy Travels — and launched the acclaimed Antiques Roadshow podcast, Detours. His work has appeared on Snap Judgment, Studio 360 and 99 Percent Invisible; it has been featured at the Tribeca Film Festival, and recognized with multiple Edward R. Murrow Awards as well as a nomination for ‘Podcast of the Year’ from the Podcast Academy. Additionally, Ian has premiered live sound works at the Boston Museum of Science and Harvard Museums of Science and Culture, and collaborated on immersive audio installations for the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Richmond ICA, and Atlanta Science Festival. Ian holds a PhD in ethnomusicology from Boston University, where he conducted research on Haitian radio broadcasting and Indonesian shadow-puppetry. Learn more at iancoss.com.
Sophiyaa Nayar is from New Delhi, India. She creates interdisciplinary and genre-bending work that places (im)immigrants and BIPOC at the center of the narrative. She is a member of the WP Lab 2020-22, a 1497 Screenwriters Lab semi-finalist, 3Arts Make a Wave Grantee, an ensemble member with Definition Theatre, member of Director’s Lab Chicago 2017, and a resident in Milwaukee Rep’s 2017/18 season. She was part of the SDC Foundation’s Observership Class, through which she worked on Soft Power by Jeanine Tesori and David Henry Hwang at The Public. Most recently, she directed Plural (Love) by Jen Goma and Haruna Lee (WP, Pipeline Festival), Shakuntala by Lavina Jadhwani (Future Labs, Goodman Theatre). Love in The Time of Jonestown: A Radio Play by Omer Abbas Salem (New Coordinates), Good Years by Ada Alozie (Film, Definition Theatre), Pretty Shahid by Omer Abbas Salem (Jackalope Theatre), MLK Project by Yolanda Androzzo (Writers Theatre), EthiopianAmerica By Sam Kebede (Definition Theatre) which won Black Theatre Alliance Awards for Best Play, Featured Actor and Actress and a Jeff award for Fight Choreography. She has developed work with, Steppenwolf, Center Theatre Group, The Shed, American Players Theatre, Writers Theatre, Jackalope, Milwaukee Rep and MCC theatre etc. Learn more about her on sophiyaanayar.net.