The Nile Project is a cross-cultural music initiative that brings together artists from 11 countries that border the great river system. The multi-national collaboration of diverse instruments, languages and musical traditions showcases the potential of trans-boundary cooperation.
The Nile Project was conceived in 2011 by Egyptian ethnomusicologist Mina Girgis and Ethiopian American singer Meklit Hadero. With a stated mission to “educate, inspire, and empower the citizens of the Nile basin to foster the sustainability of the Nile River’s ecosystem,”
the collective advocates for critical discourse around the cultural and environmental challenges at the root of conflict in the region. The Nile Project model integrates programs in music, education, dialogue, leadership, and innovation to engage students across disciplines and geographies, inspire cultural curiosity and ignite engagement in social justice. The project culminated in a live showcase debut in 2013 which featured duets, trios, quartets and ensembles formed over a 10-day period; this concert was recorded and subsequently released as the internationally acclaimed album Aswan.
The Nile Project live experience blends traditional musical idioms into one seamless sound, yet encompasses a wealth of cultural variance and specificity, from the polyrhythmic styles of Lake Victoria, to the pointed melodies of the Ethiopian highlands and the rich modal traditions of Egypt and Sudan. Utilizing collectively modeled organizational concepts such as systems thinking, network theory, and participatory leadership structure to facilitate cross-cultural empathy, current areas of focus include the development of an online dialogue platform and a Nile Prize to incubate innovative solutions to the region’s trans-boundary water conflicts.