By Abiy Solomon
Ethiopian music has gone through a course of modernization in the context of mingling its cultural musical identity with the global musical understanding. Despite the relative pressure and control the country’s music development faced during the Dergue regime, the last two decades could be said to be times during which the musical development has woken up from slumber. New creative works have been staged, experimental productions were released, skilled musicians have made efforts to come up with their experimental tunes…the list goes on. Among these, here is introduced two cultural and modern bands which have made their own traces and contributed significantly to the national music development and modernization.
It’s a cultural band called “Signat,” which features energetic and skilful musicians who stage performances of Ethiopia’s Nations and Nationalities. The band stages vocalists accompanied by colourful and vibrant cultural dancers. Established in 2004, Signat has performed in every compass corner of thecountry exhibiting their much loved cultural music show. What is more distinctive about the band is that it’s one of the pioneering cultural collective to incorporate musical performances from every nation and nationality of Ethiopia, which is later adopted by other collectives. Alongside their regular cultural music performance, the band has made notable efforts to modernize or fuse the cultural musical identity with the modern one. Concerning its modern cultural fusion, there are significant members of the band who could be put under the limelight who brought up brand new experimental and widely applauded music productions. Among these we can mention popular songs of Signat’s members: Saron Teferi’s “Miso Negaya” (Hamer tribe), Tsegaye Sime’s “Osebasa” (Gurage Tribe) coupled with the Tigrigna singer Hagos Gebrehiwot’s productions. Fueled by its passionate musicians, vocalists and cultural dancers the band still keeps the aroused spirit performing through the country and artistically invigorating its members.
As far as modern music is concerned, “Habesha Band” happens to be another instance in the subject under discussion which is actively operating in the contemporary modern musical scene. The band embarked on its musical journey in 2012 and is comprised of seven musicians and two vocalists who could be dubbed as masters of their arts. Managed by Mesfin Getachew and founded by Yonathan Solomon “Habesha Band” is also into music arrangement and composition beside its stage performances. Their success and committed effort to the contemporary music development is attested by the testimonials they often get and music productions they brought out. The popular TV show host Seifu Fantahun is usually heard showering the band with emotional admirations as they perform during his show. Being the preference to many the band performs at various popular events and celebrations and works with prominent artists of the country like Kuku Sebsibie.
Attributed to their musical achievement, important contribution and wide acclaim, “Habesha band” and “Signat band” are now honourably invited to participate in the Café Lalibela Cultural Exchange on its 21st year heritage festival to be held at Tempe Arizona, USA in June 2017.
Café Lalibela is a popular Ethiopian restaurant which has been promoting Ethiopian cuisine and culture for the last two decades in USA. It is a family owned business, established in 1996 and the first Ethiopian restaurant and establishment providing a wholesale pre packaging Ethiopian foods from their own food processing facility to big super markets in Western USA, such as whole foods Market and Natural Grocers.
Café Lalibela has been exceptionally reviewed as the best Ethiopian restaurant by various media. “here’s one place where adults can eat with their hands with complete impunity: Tempe’s Cafe Lalibela is a classic Ethiopian eatery where traditional stews called wat are served on large pancakes of spongy injera, a bread made from the grain teff , which is native to north-eastern Africa,” reads a review on Phoenix New Times.
When celebrating its 21st year of promoting Ethiopian cuisine and culture, Café Lalibela has planned to incorporate musical performances to show case the unique Ethiopian Music inviting prominent and modern bands – Signat and Habesha.
It is also learnt that the bands will stage their shows at the ESFNA 2017 soccer tournament in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Seattle to the Ethiopian gathering that coincides with the Café’s celebration.