Aster Aweke & Wubishet Fisseha did two albums together, Wubishet on vocal and guitar and Aster on vocals. This traditional ‘Gum Gum’ is taken from volume two, which is a lot heavier than volume one, darker atmosphere. Wubishet Fisseha was releasing music from early 70s and can be found with two songs on Ethiopiques vol. 24. He also did a similar acoustic album with Almaz Kebede, along with several solo albums, all released by Tango music shop.
Aster Aweke is known as the queen of Ethiopian pop music, beginning from the 70s and up until today she has been influential for the sound of pop music in the Ethiopian diaspora and locally. This album stands out along with her first album being acoustic and very different from her later material.
Now Mitmitta music shop is closed for this rain period, but will open again late September. Meanwhile this album and many other great cassette-albums can be found at Domino Sound Record Shack in New Orleans, USA. If ever going that direction please set off some time visiting that amazing shop for rare finds in cassette and vinyl.
Teferra Kassa was amongst the first singers who performed with The Imperial Bodyguard Band. His voice might not have had the same charisma and strength, placing him somehow in the shadow of Telahun Gessesse and Mahmoud Ahmed he was never able to reach a similar fame and recognition. He also performed at the Theater like the above mentioned. He continued singing and had in some ways a more popular phase of his carrier into the 80s. Some Youtube clips: 12
This tune is taken from a cassette collection of Teferra Kassa with no info as usual, the backing sounding very much like The Imperial Bodyguard Band. Chellema Tegeffa (The dark was kept away). Enjoy
Frew Hailu was a skilled accordion player as well as being a dear singer to many Ethiopians. He has been released on Ethiopiques Vol.10 - Eyetegnu Neku and Vol.25 - Almaz Men Eda New. He spent most of his time performing in the theaters, at Hagir Fikir for sure, also along with Imperial Body Guard band. Here is song taken from a cassette album, a Tigrigna style with his accordion and most probably a theater band. Frew Hailu passed away in the 90s. Some Youtube clips: 12 Enjoy!
Long time since last post now. Left Ethiopia for Norway for the coming two months. Will be a little less frequent with my posting in this period, it will be back to normal in mid November.
Today’s tune is from the National theater band in late 60s, also known as the Haile Selassie I Theater. It was an important center for the development of different musical traditions, with full size orchestras using modern instruments, and directors hired from abroad. Famous singers naming Telahun Gessesse and Mahmoud Ahmed were amongst the contributors to the theater. Many musicians were developing their skills and the theater was along with some hotels and nightclubs the main stage for live music. Many new creations came out of National theater, the institution has been and is still creating amazing musicians and ideas.
Here is theatrical duet between father and daughter. Enjoy!
Found it reasonable that I’d continue and let you listen to yet another traditional tune from Wollo. Soqota is a small town that goes back in time. Being in the Amhara region, it still has several different ethnical groups living in and passing by the town. The Soqota and Wagemra area music is slightly faster than what is the case for Gonder, Godjam and Wollo traditional rhythms. Traditional nightclubs has long been presenting the different styles of Amhara, and the Soqota genre has recently become very popular through different traditional artists, i.e Kassahun Taye’s Agaw Ledj, his big hit Sora Sora, is from Lalibela, Lasta, quite close to Soqota. Trad is Pop in Ethiopia, and some of the trad is selling a lot more than any modern pop production. I love seeing this, and hope the trend has come to stay. Just take away the keyboard, and put some real instruments on to it, it could be a hit across the continents. Here is unknown artists, doing a Soqota song early 80s, Wagemra, a pure traditional Soqota song. Enjoy!
Following the traditional tune from yesterday, here is another tune from Wollo. From the Amhara Saynt Borena area, known to be historically one of the first places where the Amhara people settled in the Highlands. A proud people, having traditions of big stick fights. Here is Yeborana bahel chaweta. Masinko (one-stringed violin) and powerful vocals.
Kemise is the administrative center for the Oromo people in Wollo. The majority of this city are Muslims (80%). Wollo has a long history of Muslims living alongside with Christians. Being a northern province where highland meets with the lowland different cultures has been exchanging for centuries. Kemise.
Here is an example of Kemise Traditional Music, various vocal usage, flute and clapping. Check it out!
Muhammed Awel was one of the first amongst the Gurage Peoples to gain popularity for his new sound to their traditional music. You might also know that Mahmoud Ahmed was Gurage and did some songs already in the 60s witch had the significant Gurage beat. Muhammed Awel started giving out cassette albums from early 80s. Accompanied with bass, kirar and keyboards, he gave his own touch to the Gurage traditional music. This tune is maybe not a good example, but still shows that they wanted to do something different.
Today’s tune is dedicated to Sophie Bernard, a great promotor of Ethiopian music, modern and traditional. She was recently in Ethiopia, working with different exciting artists and on other projects , and also supporting my music shop to the max. Painting and serving. When driving to Dire Dawa together for an Oromo music raid, I and her was rating about 50-60 cassettes from 1-5 stars. This cassette got *****. Thanks dear friend!
Umar Suleeyman is a modern hit amongst Oromos. With only bass, keyboard and vocals, this artist still manages to vary every song. The energy is present to its limits. Have not found any cd releases by this guy, but his cassette albums goes from No.1-12. After listening to 9 of them I’m still impressed. This is Umar Suleeyman of Ethiopia. Woboo. Enjoy!
Ayalew Mesfin, being seemingly one of the underdogs of his time, he was extremly funky. His tunes from the Ethiopiques series can prove that, listening to ‘Feker Aydellem Wey’ or ‘Hasabe’ you might see why. He first started his career in the 70s and is comparable to the style of Alemayehu Eshete. His Fetan Band and The Black Lion Band had definetly an approach to western funk.
Met Mr. Ayalew outside of his shop here one day, he was closing it down to do some proper renovation for several months, on the reopening thought he said he would be having ready new releases of all his old material, CD and cassettes.
The song I’m sharing with you is an original Ayalew Mesfin tune, but might be recognizable for you who has listened to Getachew Mekurya & The Ex. Aha Begena, went to punk but at the same time it kind of already was. Getachew is also appearing on this recording. The tune is taken from Ayalew Mesfins first cassette-album, not available anywhere.
Here is a singer who is said to tell a thousand words singing just one song. Being first recorded in 1972 (Hedech Alu) arranged by Girma Beyene, Muluken Melese was active a little later than the other big stars in the golden age of Ethiopian music. He was singing with several different bands and made himself attractive for the hottest arrangers in town. Read more about his developments at wiki. This song is called Djemeregn, haven’t found it re-released anywhere and this recording is from an unlabled cassette. I’m not completly sure if this is a Mulatu Astatke or a Girma Beyene song, them being quite similar at times, but still holding a button on Mulatu since he has done similar songs with Muluken and congas.
The band Imperial Tiger Orchestra (Sw/Fr) plays contemporary jazz oriented interpretations of Ethiopian music, and have a version of this tune. They are also out with a new single right now! Check out their myspace and listen to the tune at bandcamp.
Got this 7” this weekend from a friend who thought I deserved it, thanks Erwan! Buying vinyl in Ethiopia is certainly not an easy task. Mostly I’ve been in touch with older men who have amazing collections but are usually not interested in selling their records. Their vinyl players would often not have a working needle, so I would bring one for them if possible, and then they are usually more than happy to lend me their records, so that I can digitize and give it back. Most retailers or record dealers knows that foreigners would pay loads of money for a 7” in decent shape, not even being a good song they might pay up to 200birr (14$). This has made it difficult to get a vinyl worthy of your spending. It’s even tiring to try because of the disappointment of not agreeing with the price. My friend JB has been really lucky to get a personal dealer, a taxi-driver and obviously a man with the right contacts, he even gets a fixed price for vinyls with or without covers and chooses only the ones in a good shape. Lucky bastard. Still, I have digitized all the stuff you won’t find on newly released from his collection, about 500 songs, around 80 hours of pleasant work. This is holy material, not for sale, only for making listening.
This is another wedding song Amhara-beat style, quite unusual coming from Asmara, Eritrea. Ashagedawo. Enjoy!
Last song and artist of this Oromo week, Ali Shebo. Same origin as most of the portrayed artists, Dire Dawa. He was along with Ali Birra, Abetew Kebede singing in Afaan Oromo when the government was trying to prohibit it. He also made some performances in Addis Abeba, gave out a 7” with Philips, and was an active performer and song-writer and popular amongst the Oromos in the 70s and early 80s. A video.
This cassette and tune is performed with the Adjabiwoch, Halo Dawe & Almaz Teferra. Ali Shebo is playing guitar. Enjoy Epumetin Damsa Sidama!
Abetew Kebede became famous for his acoustic style amongst the Afaan Oromo speaking people in the 70s and 80s. It has been the most popular Oromo tape in the shop since opening. Trying to find more out about him, you’ll find several you-tube clips of him, but all I know is that he went over to evangelism, and singing gospel instead of this kind of music. This is Chimchim Gonna by Abetew Kebede, with Alfenesh Kenno guest appearing. Enjoy!
It’s friday night, I’m am completly struck by a flu, and wasn’t able to digitize Abetew Kebede witch was thought as today’s tune. Still this man is someone I will be sharing a lot of, and I have been wanting him to be the only one getting two tunes for this Oromo week. Umar Suleeyman is full of surprises. Spacious keyboard arrangements in every song. Here is a tune for the weekend.
Umar Suleeymaan, Wrong cover but album Number 8, Bilisumma.