Mélat Celebrates Her Family & Culture In “Negn (I Am)” [Video Premiere]

Screengrab via YouTube

Austin, Texas, songstress Mélat recently released her new album MéVen, an 11-track project that found the artist exploring ideas of identity and love, while continuing to expand her artistry alongside artists such as Xavier Omar, Sylvan LaCue and others. A standout on the album was “Negn (I Am),” which features Mélat singing in Amharic about her Ethiopian and Eritrean upbringing.

Now, Mélat has released the music video for the song, which Okayplayer is premiering. Beautifully shot, the video begins with dark shots of Mélat, crimson red coloring her face across backgrounds of black and blue. The scenes transition to Mélat wearing a white dress, as she walks through different places, the camera zooming in on the necklaces that accompany her — one the outline of Africa, then a pair of religious pendants.

“In Ethiopian/Eritrean (aka Habesha) culture, it is incredibly common for people to have, what is referred to as, a ‘house name,'” Mélat said. “Usually this ‘house name’ is derived from a physical or character attribute possessed by a person at a young age. In my case, although most of my family and friends have always called me by my given name, Mélat, neither one of my grandmothers thought that was what I should be called.”

The end result is an homage to Mélat’s upbringing and culture, as she alludes to the “house names” she was called as a child by her grandmothers (“Mewded” meaning “love” and “Addis Alem” meaning “New World”). But it is also a celebration of identity and pride, as Mélat triumphantly ends the song by singing “Addis Alem negn/Mewded Negn,” acknowledging the power in her names and the ability to live up to them.

Elijah C. Watson

Elijah Watson serves as Okayplayer's News & Culture Editor. When he's not writing he's listening to Sade and crying or watching My Hero Academia with his partner.

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Elijah C. Watson

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