Sunday, September 27, 2015

Francis Falceto & His 30-years Love-affair with Ethiopian Contemporary Music

(Photo: Courtesy of Buda Musique)
Francis Falceto is a French musicologist and music producer, specializing in world music especially of Ethiopian music and he has been working to put it on global music map since 1986. Falceto's love-affair with the Ethiopian music just happened by accident in April-May 1984 when one of his music enthusiast friends who had been to Ethiopia and brought an LP entitled Ere Mela Mela by Mahmoud Ahmed. He and a group of his friends were organizing non-profit concerts out of boredom in small sleepy Western France village called Poitier. They used to listen music from other African countries, but Ere Mela Mela was an absolute shock to their ears because of the uniqueness of Mahmoud's sound, the arrangement and the brass. He made some cassettes out of it and sent it to journalists and music reviewers; it was an absolute shock to them as well. The next day, they all called him back, saying, “Francis, what’s that?  Where did you get this from?  It’s great!”  So, he immediately understood that, if these people, who supposedly knowledgeable about music by profession, if they don’t know this music, it must be a place to dig, to try to find out if it’s an exception, or if it’s one among many.  
After having a few ''crush-course'' about Ethiopia, its culture, music and history by the owner of the only Ethiopian restaurant in Paris at that time. Falceto went naively to Ethiopia to ''bring'' Mahmoud Ahmed, Mulatu Astatqe and other generations of the Swinging-Addis for a music tour in France. He admitted, he failed not once but three times to accomplish his mission due to

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Teshome Birhanu, an Ethiopian Migrant who puts Stockholm as a European Cultural Capital

With offices in Stockholm and Addis, and supported by several Swedish organizations as well as the Nordic Culture Fond, SELAM promotes festivals, concerts, tours, club nights and forums presenting global music in professional venues, such as the Stockholm Culture Festival. But, who is behind such big initiative which is bringing thousands of music fans together every summer in Stockholm not to mention other other cultural event?
Teshome, a musician from the start, trained in Russia, but born and raised in Ethiopia and came to Sweden in 1990. Seven years later, he founded SELAM, which is a cultural organization which deals with music, organizing festivals, concerts, club nights and tours throughout Sweden. SELAM focus mostly on music from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and invites international guests to Sweden and organizes events in places like Konsterthuset, Södra teatern, Nalen etc. It also works with international cultural exchanges between Sweden and Africa and supports the Ethiopian cultural work with the skills, contacts, organizing festivals and much more.
Teshome Wondimu started playing with different bands at various locations in the suburbs of Stockholm in the 1990s. But soon he realized why they [ musicians with foreing background] were not allowed to play

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Street-kid turnout Cultural Ambassador- an Ethiopian Success Story

Melaku, the Street-kid!

Born around 1980 in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia, Melaku (which means the Angel in Amharic) Belay- the household name of Ethiopian traditional music group of our time, has never imagined he would be a cultural ambassador for a country which for some a synonym with famine. The road to his success was not rosy.
Before all this fame and stardom, before Melaku Belay has become the man he is today, he was indeed a a street-kid. During the political conflicts of the 70s and 80 Ethiopia, all of his family fled to the Sudan.
Melaku was alone: "Life was difficult. Imagine Sleeping on the street, going to school alone, living without family, without money, with nothing." But he underscores that he has never regretted having lived that life : It helped him to acquire the strength and willingness to work more to earn a life and become the person he wanted to be today. Melaku has a passion for dance since the age of 4 years. He started dancing at this age in ceremonies in Addis Ababa, as the feast of Timket (Epiphany). The dance, which began as a leisure, has turned into a professional career when an old woman, he considered as his mother, told him

Saturday, September 5, 2015

I'll Stop singing Romantic Songs: Legendary Ethiopian Singer Alemayehu Eshete

Image result for alemayehu esheteAlemayehu Eshete is one of the living legends of modern Ethiopian popular culture and one of the outstanding Ethiopian vocalists who emerged during the heyday of Ethiopian music in the turbulent 1960s. Alemayehu, known by many as the ''Ethiopian Elvis'' or "the James Brown of Addis", was a pioneer to modernize Ethiopian music by combining R&B, Ethiopian groove, soul, rock n' roll, and traditional Ethiopian music to create something truly unique. 
His parents wanted and dreamed their only child to be an engineer, a medical doctor or a lawyer and when they found out that Alemayehu was singing at the local night-clubs, their heart broken. Especially, Alemayehu's father, who did everything in his capacity to educate his son, took the news personally and wanted to shoot and kill Alemayehu. The aspiring artist wasn't in good terms with father for more many years. Understandably, singing had a very low status in Ethiopia during those days.   
Alemayehu who was determined to realize his dreams, has dared to adopt elements from rock-n-roll and American soul, including body movements, dance and hair styles, eventually coming to be known as  or "James Brown of Addis." Over the course of years Eshete released over 30 albums that became enormous hits in Ethiopia and led various orchestras, including the famous Police Orchestra and groups that he himself established.
Colonel Retta Demeqe was the one who recognized Alemayehu's talent and