Asfaw and Mekdes singing old Ethiopian song

Ethiopia is a country with a rich musical heritage. Musicians and audiences alike prefer to listen to both popular and traditional music, which is why popular music is played, recorded, and consumed. Brass bands, brought from Jerusalem by forty Armenian orphans (Arba Lijoch) during Haile Selassie’s reign, have a long history of popular music in Ethiopia. They were the country’s first-ever official orchestra when they arrived in Addis Ababa on September 6th, 1924. It wasn’t until the end of World War II that large orchestras accompanied singers. The most well-known orchestras were those of the Army Band, the Imperial Bodyguard Band, and the Police Band. While popular Ethiopian folk musicians included Alemu Aga, Kassa Tessema, Ketema Makonnen as well as Asnaketch Worku and Mary Armede from the 1950s to the early ’70s included popular Ethiopian popular musicians such as Mahmoud Ahmed, Alemayehu Eshete, Hirut Bekele, Ali Birro and Ayalalew Mesfin. Mulatu Astatke, a pioneer of Ethiopian jazz, was perhaps the most influential musician of the era. Ethiopian record labels such as Amha Records, Kaifa Records, and Philips-Ethiopia were well-known during this time period. Buda Musique’s Éthiopiques series has been compiling these CDs since 1997. In the 1980s, Ethiopia was under the control of the Derg, and emigration was nearly impossible. Ethio Stars, Walias Band, and Roha Band were some of the most popular musicians of this era, but singer Neway Debebe was the most popular. A poetic form of double entendre known as seminna-werq (wax and gold), seminna-werq was popularized by him, allowing singers to criticize the government without fear of upsetting the censors.

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