Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tlahoun Gessesse 1940-2009

Not exactly breaking news, but a famous Ethiopian singer passed away last week from complications related to diabetes.

Tlahoun Gessesse was born in Woliso, about 50 miles from Addis Ababa. After being advised by musicians visiting his school to head to Addis if he wanted to pursue a musical career, he set out on foot towards the capital. His family gathered him up after only 10 miles, but he immediately set out again, this time hiding in the back of a truck.

After making it to Addis, he found work at the Hager Fikir music theater, and eventually snagged a spot in Haile Selassie's own Imperial Bodyguard Band, where he became a star singer on par with Mahmoud Ahmed. Seems like a ridiculous rise that I'd like to learn more about. Later in his career, in the 70's and 80's, he put millions of dollars from sales of his records towards aiding Ethiopian famine victims.

The first 2 minutes of this vid are pure gold, the rest probably only interesting to Amharic speakers:

buy Ethiopiques 17 - Tlahoun Gessesse

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