Ethiopian Music

Ethiopia is located in Eastern Africa, west of Somalia.

The Amharic language is the official language of the Republic of Ethiopia. It is also spoken in Eritrea. The Amharic language is popular with many reggae musicians who are Rastafarians. They learn Amharic because they consider it to be a sacred language. Musicians like Lincoln Thompson and Misty in Roots have written songs in Amharic.

In the early 1970s, Ethiopia experienced a golden age of popular music with the rise of “Ethio-jazz” — a fascinating combination of modal melodies and diminished harmonies with a funk six-beat groove. At the center of the scene was vocalist Mahmoud Ahmed. Ahmed’s 1975 album Erè Mèla Mèla is a classic album from the golden age of Ethiopian music and was the first East African release from that era to be embraced by a wide-ranging Western audience. In the late 1990s, dozens of Ahmed’s recordings were reissued on the popular Éthiopiques compilations put together by French label Buda Musique.

Ethiopian Musicians

Girma Beyene
Mahmoud Ahmed
Minase Hailu
Neway Debebe
Roha Band
Saliha Sami
Seleshe Damessae (a.k.a. Sileshi Demissie, Seleshe Demassae)