Qwanqwa – New Music from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia / « Back
Music has long been regarded as “The Universal Language.” It is the world’s mother tongue, understood by all. The name Qwanqwa (literally meaning “language” in Amharic) was chosen for this meaning. Qwanqwa, based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is comprised of the finest Ethiopian traditional musicians, plus Kaethe, who has been living in Addis and working with Ethiopian musicians since she first set foot there in 2009. It’s been called a supergroup of master virtuosos, each of whom is a bearer of tradition, uniquely brought together by a spirit of experimentalism.
The group was formed in 2012, and since then has been steadily growing artistically: they have two albums to date, with a third set for release in early 2018, and they perform regularly in Addis.
Qwanqwa’s sound is marked by Selamnesh’s unleashed lazer voice, Endris’s swirling masinko melodies, Mesele’s punk krar solos, Kaethe’s wah-violin, and Bubu’s dexterity on the bass-harp, all held together with Misale’s heavy goat-skin drum beats. The vision merges a passion for the richness and diversity of Ethiopian musical traditions with a modern sensibility and a desire to expand present boundaries.
Kaethe first worked in Ethiopian music as a founding member of critically acclaimed Debo Band, and since relocating to Addis, she has participated in numerous exploratory and professional projects, as she honed her sound and immersed herself further into the culture of her surroundings. She maintains an active international performing life, also appearing solo as Ubuntu Rising.
Members of Qwanqwa have appeared internationally with Getachew Mekuria, Mohammed “Jimmy” Mohammed, Thurston Moore, Nile Project, Fendika, Mulatu Astatke, Addis Acoustic, Mahmoud Ahmed, Fred Frith, Butch Morris, Ethiocolor, Badume’s Band, The EX, Atse Teodros, Imperial Tiger Orchestra, and have played stages from Lincoln Center to Bonnaroo, Jazzfest (New Orleans), Moers Festival, Roskilde, WOMEX, WOMAD and more.
Qwanqwa performs about thirty concerts a year in its hometown of Addis Ababa. They were chosen to perform at the official WOMEX showcase concert in 2018. Since their founding in 2012, QWANQWA have released two albums: Volume One (2014) and Volume Two (2015). Their third album, Volume Three, produced by Shahzad Ismaily, is set to be released in 2018.
– Misale Leggesse, kebero (goat skin drum)
– Mesele Asmamaw, lead electric-krar
– Anteneh Teklemariam, bass krar
– Endris Hassan, masinko
– Selamnesh Zemene, vocalist
– Kaethe Hostetter, electric 5-string violin
Now booking spring and fall dates in North America 2018