To understand Meresha is to understand Meresha’s music.
Let me qualify that. I started knocking up a few questions which I thought might elicit the appropriate insight into this eclectic singer’s world, then hit delete and don’t save changes thank you very much, after tapping out the first two.
And then I stuck some headphones on and listened to her song, My Love Has Come.
Here’s the thing: before I interviewed Canadian snowboard star Mercedes Nicoll, I didn’t so much as entertain the first question until I’d seen her approach that backside 900 at Sochi. Because to understand someone’s motivation, a visual reference helps.
So it’s only right and proper to do the same for a music artist. Except I didn’t watch the video for My Love Has Come (I have since), only listened to it on Meresha’s website. But actually, that was a great introduction because the Meresha sound and Meresha image go fairly well hand-in-hand. Actually, the former paints an accurate picture of the latter. The Bio on her homepage cites comparisons to an eclectic panoply of singers from a young Annie Lennox to Katy Perry and Bjork, and while I, as very much the generalist and not a qualified music journalist, am inclined to agree, I couldn’t help but hear echoes of Lady Gaga in Meresha’s sonorous yet breathy tones.
Hopefully that’s a half-decent impression of someone who knows what they’re on about when it comes to vocals. Look, I just say it like I hear it. The point is this: upon listening I became instantly curious about what first inspired Meresha to start writing and performing music.
“I was a pre-teen,” she recalls, “and saw the Black Eyed Peas and Paramore in concert and thought to myself, I have to do that. Not too long after that, I wrote my first song Fool Don’t Be which is still up on my YouTube, Spotify, etc.”
Etc. is right because a quick Google search for the song returns one or two more results than just those two platforms. Meresha’s prevalence on the internet is not down to the happy auspices of good fortune though, not by a long shot. As in independent artist, she’s worked harder than most to get her name out there.
“I’ve been active on social media for some years. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. every day. A lot of what I do is also in private messages, which people don’t see, but where I have made a bunch of connections – e.g., leading to this interview. Finding the right balance between “broadcasting” news or pictures, and connecting with people directly, is key.”
There’s a lesson there I think (I can confirm that this interview came as a result of a Twitter direct message) and perhaps a note-to-self: must spend more time on social feeds and do something about the forlorn echo on Facebook page…
For Meresha, her attentiveness to social marketing isn’t the sole answer though. There has been hard work and commitment not just from within, but from without. When she was just fifteen, she upped sticks from Europe and relocated her entire family to Florida. I wonder how they felt about that.
“It was a conscious decision to get exposed to a much bigger music scene. Since coming I’ve recorded in studios where dozens of platinum records were recorded, done videos with people nominated for MTV VMAs, etc. None of that would have been possible if I hadn’t moved to the US. My family has always been supportive of me pursuing my dreams as a musician from the first time I recorded a song in a CD booth in Florida.”
And that’s when the dedication to her craft really began. Want to know what a day-in-the-life of one of Billboard’s ‘Top 10 Global Emerging Artists’ looks like?
“There are a bunch of things I do every day. I practice daily – at a minimum voice and keys. People don’t think about musicians as athletes, but the truth is you have to keep your music-making muscles fit. It’s too easy, for example, to really hurt your voice. I also work on staying healthy. As a vegan, I tend to eat well daily, and I also keep fit by exercising – biking, running, blading, yoga, paddleboarding, etc. almost every day. Finally, I am also in contact with fans and music people every single day, sometimes with literally hundreds of people.”
Back to that Billboard accolade – that’s no meagre prediction is it? One of the ten most promising artists currently building a reputation in the music business. Understandably, it ranks as one of Meresha’s proudest achievements to date as a musician, albeit one that brings more than a modicum of pressure.
“Being recently named a Top 10 Global Emerging Artist by Billboard was pretty cool. It’s a lot to live up to. 2017 will be a year when I work to prove them right.”
Given that she’s also been recognised one way or another by the likes of iTunes, House of Blues, and various MTV properties, it seems reasonable to posit she might succeed in that endeavour. But that’s the rub isn’t it? Success is an arbitrary thing and its definition, as we’ve discovered, is held very much in the eye of the beholder. For Meresha, it’s about pursuit of her passion.
“The definition of success is when you are free to do what you love, without any limitations. And for me it also means sharing this thing I love with people from all over the globe!”
My own understanding is that it comes down to removing as much of the clutter as possible and focusing on the one thing you want to spend your life doing. Because commitment is a tool easier to hone when your ambition isn’t blunted by the nine-to-five. It’s the same for Meresha.
“The first step is to be able to live from my art. I’m not quite there yet, as starting to build a following internationally is a lot of investment. Longer term, I do hope that my music is recognized globally and adds to the lives of many people. I would love to share my tunes with them live, playing in front of the people from all over that write to me every day.”
Honestly, I’d buy a ticket to that gig.
The most prominent element of Meresha’s character though is her tenacity. They all have it, from the Olympians I’ve spoken to, to a former Iraq PoW who was beaten and humiliated on world TV. And now that I think about resolve and determination, what about Mark Inglis, the Paralympic silver medallist who, not dissuaded by the small matter of a double leg amputation, decided to conquer Mount Everest..? It doesn’t matter whether the issue comes down to life or death. It’s only the life part that counts. If you want to live it to your fullest potential, you have to refuse to give up. Whatever arena you want to make it in, you’ve got to keep going. But don’t take it from me. When I ask Meresha what advice she’d give to someone looking to pursue a life in the music industry, I’m not surprised by the determination that is manifest in her answer.
“It’s a profession,” she asserts. “You have to prepare for it and continue to improve your art and skills all the time. If you are not ready to make the commitment, and can’t get yourself to work at it constantly, you really should not even start. Most of being an Indie musician is rejection. I have applied for many hundreds of opportunities. You don’t see 99% of those on my website because I was rejected, especially early on. You can’t take that personally. You have to keep trying. If you do, and keep improving, eventually your art and skills will be recognized.”
Before transcribing this interview I made a commitment to myself that, as a non-music journalist, I’d try to establish whose stellar path Meresha was most likely to follow. Going over her words, I realise, for what my opinion is worth, that it’s her own.
My thanks to Meresha for her time and for sharing a personal insight into what makes her tick. If you’d like to get to know one of the Top Ten Global Emerging Artists, her website is meresha.com.
You’ll also find Meresha on: