artist meskerem singing with her beautiful voice

Ethiopian music, like its people’s fashion sense, represents the country’s numerous ethnic groups’ individual personalities. Traditional music includes African folk elements, but is less rhythmic and more string and reed-based than music from other African countries. Ethiopian music features a number of indigenous instruments, similar to that of neighboring countries Eritrea and Sudan. When Emperor Haile Selassie I created Western-style military brass bands in the 1930s, popular music entered the national awareness. Artists mixed these approaches with hints of traditional tunes three decades later, and the origins of American jazz, pop, and soul music began to take hold.

Following Selassie’s deposition, dictatorial control drove prominent artists like female vocalist Aster Aweke to abandon the country, but since the dictatorship’s fall in 1991, pop music has regained popularity in Ethiopia. Gigi, a female vocalist who blends traditional and modern music, jazz saxophonist Abatte Barihun, and BBC World Music Award winner Mahmoud Ahmed are all popular contemporary artists. Of all, this is only a small part of Ethiopia’s rich culture and traditions.

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