Ethiopian Music Legend Performing Select Dates in the US in 2017
Girma Beyene was one of the arrangers who made the Ethiopian music of the ‘Golden Era’ different than the music of today. He was a lyricist, a music writer, arranger, vocalist, an accomplished pianist and finally a bandleader. To most, if any name comes to mind with the word “arranger” in Ethiopian music, it is probably that of Mulatu Astatke. Yet, according to Ethiopiques Series producer Francis Falceto, in the heyday of Ethiopia’s “Swinging Addis” scene, Girma Beyene is credited to having arranged close to 65 titles, compared to Mulatu’s 40. Girma left a handful of recordings as a vocalist, but it was as an arranger and pianist that he is fondly remembered today. Arguably he has been more important and influential than Mulatu Astatke on the 60s and 70s ‘Golden Era’ Addis scene. He is also the composer of “Muziqawi Silt”, the most covered Ethiopian song worldwide. Carlos Santana will release soon a cover of another Girma Beyene song in the near future.
Although Girma Beyene performances are rare, in 2017 he will be playing a handful of select dates with the Feedel Band from Washington DC as his backing band in North America. The Washington DC region is home to one of the most robust Ethiopian music scenes in the world — possibly second only to Addis Ababa itself — and the DC Ethio-jazz ensemble Feedel Band includes some of its top players. Feedel saxophonist Moges Habte and bassist Alemseged Kebede are well-known for their work with Walias Band, a group that thrived during the height of the Addis jazz scene in the 1970s. (Also in Walias Band was Hailu Mergia, a D.C.-area cab driver whose music career found its second wind in 2013.) Both Kebede and keyboardist/bandleader Araya Woldemichael have performed with huge acts including vocalist Aster Aweke, who’s been called “Ethiopia’s Aretha Franklin.”
For an extended bio information on Girma Beyene and more on Ethiopia’s ‘Golden Era’ click HERE
Read about Girma’s comeback in the Washington Post HERE
For more on Feedel Band you can hear and watch videos of the group in this piece on WAMU’s Bandwidth by Ally Schweitzer HERE