Powerhouse Singer-Songwriter Mélat Shows the World How to “Lead With Love”

By Gabrielle Pharms | March 10, 2022

Ethiopian-American singer-songwriter Mélat is one of the best things to happen to the R&B world. She leaves her heart on the stage as a performer while she bears her soul on paper as a songwriter. With a power-packed voice and skillful pen, the Austin, Texas native crafts songs about love in a way that’s empowering and refreshing.

Last month, Mélat released her new song and visual for “The Lesson.” Although she originally wrote “The Lesson” a few years back, Mélat decided to re-visit its release to the world. “I didn't really share it with anyone because it was like, ‘Oh, this is what I'm going through. I don't even know why I want to say all this,’” she states. “I had this realization that love just comes in, and it's like I really have no choice in how I feel at this point. It’s just how I feel.”

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Another key that unlocked “The Lesson” is Mélat’s mantra to “lead with love.” She adds, “That's my purpose. I want to make people feel. I just want to bring emotion back to it and the very deep feelings that we can't really explain. So, this song embodied in that I couldn't control this love that I had.” So, Mélat ran the idea of releasing “The Lesson” by her manager and band, and they all agreed now was the right time to unveil the emotionally charged single.

The message behind “The Lesson” is to allow love to happen naturally. “A lesson doesn't always have to bring you to a final point. It just needs to get you to the next point. So, the song for me is a little bit of a therapeutic session,” she says. “It’s also about letting go of that notion that we need to go and search for love because when it hits you, it is what it is. Is it healthy? Is it not healthy for you? Is it not for you? Those are totally different questions, in my opinion, but when love hits you, it hits you.”

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The video for the song pays homage to the Jazz Age when artists such as the Rat Pack and Ella Fitzgerald – one of Mélat’s favorite singers of all-time – gained widespread popularity across the U.S. Mélat mentions she’s “obsessed” with the jazz era in the 1930s because of the artists’ showmanship and garb. “I have huge respect for Black artists at that time, which is why Ella Fitzgerald is one of my favorites. They couldn't even walk through the front door, let alone stay in hotels and do all these things. Yet, they’re massive stars, and they're just incredibly talented,” she says. “They were facing adversity that I will never face and just the ability to continue to want to be a front-facing singer and do that every single day for years and years on end and pushing boundaries. There's just a looseness to that era of jazz – just the way that you were communicating with the audience was different, and I try to emulate that as much as I possibly can at my shows as well.”

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A post shared by Mélat (@beholdmelat)

Staying true to that retro jazz club environment that inspires her, Mélat’s shows include both her soulful vocal chops and fun banter with the audience. She adds, “The humor and the level of comfort that I see from the Rat Pack, that's really important to me. Also, from them, I took the fact that they incorporated their real lives into their sets as well. So, you learned more about them as it was going on, and I try to do the same in my shows. I try to be like, ‘This is who I am. I'm of Ethiopian descent, and these words mean this in Amharic.’ So, I try to educate people on who I am.”

Mélat’s heart-gripping approach to music and her live performances emit an irresistible flow leaving her listeners captivated and seen. “I try to bring as much feeling as I possibly can to the stage, obviously through singing, but also in explanation of why I wrote some of these songs because I think it’s just as important and if not more important for you to understand the context of where it's coming from,” she states. Thus, her “lead with love” mindset permeates who she is as an artist, performer, and above all, an individual.

Mélat is scheduled to perform a series of sets during this year’s SXSW. Click here for show dates.

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A post shared by Mélat (@beholdmelat)

Photography by: Jana Cantua; DavieDavee