Ethiopian jazz master keeps his music evolving

Mulatu was the first African student to enroll at what would soon become the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Photo: (Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi)

Ethiopian jazz master Mulatu Astatke will be taking a break from his extensive 2018 European concert tour to play at the 19th Cape Town International Jazz Festival. This should come as no surprise given that he has been in global motion ever since his parents sent him to study aeronautical engineering in North Wales in 1956.

But Mulatu (Ethiopians are traditionally called by their first names) soon began trumpet lessons instead, enrolling in London’s Trinity School of Music. While in London he heard performances by Caribbean and West African musicians that awoke his memories of the big bands he had enjoyed at home in Ethiopia. These performances prodded him to consider new directions.

By 1958 Mulatu was the first African student to enroll at what would soon become the Berklee College of Music in Boston. There he traded in his trumpet for the vibraphone. By 1960 he was living in New York City, where he spent more than six years taking part in the world of American jazz, interacting with Latin musicians, making records and performing in concerts.

By the time Mulatu returned to Ethiopia later that decade, he had developed the concept of “Ethio-Jazz” and was actively experimenting with this new, hybrid musical style. Ethio-Jazz draws on multiple trends from the American jazz scene, including bebop and modal jazz, combined with melodies and harmonies based in the Ethiopian modal system.
Melding of sounds

Mulatu’s innovations were anchored by his childhood memories of Ethiopian traditional secular and church music. It was further inflected by harmony classes at the Berklee School and welded together by the experience of hearing and playing jazz in London, Boston and New York City.

Mulatu’s pieces over the course of his career retain these early musical influences as well as a highly original mixture of sounds from places experienced on his lifelong itinerary.


Betty G named as UNHCR’s high profile supporter

UNHCR named Singer Betty G named high profile supporter
The UN Refugee Agency has named Ethiopian singer and songwriter Betty G, as the country’s high profile supporter of the agency.

Betty G is one of Africa’s fastest rising music stars, catapulted to stardom following the release of her debut album “Manew Fitsum” in 2015.

UNHCR’s Representative in Ethiopia, Clementine Nkweta-Salami, welcomed Betty G at the Agency’s Country Office in Addis Ababa, ahead of the singer’s visit to a refugee camp in Western Ethiopia, noting that UNHCR looked forward to embarking on this new and exciting collaboration to further the mandate of the agency in Ethiopia to protect and serve refugees.

She said, “We have a government that is willing to do even more for refugees. Your voice, talent and prominent role in the field of arts, will help to expand knowledge and awareness of some 850,000 refugees currently hosted in the country.”

Betty G recently gained fame across Africa following her appearances in Coke Studio Africa. As a high profile supporter for UNHCR, she joins an influential group in the public domain who use their influence, dedication and hard work to raise funds, awareness and advocate for refugees.

“I am happy to work alongside UNHCR in raising the voices of refugees in Ethiopia and beyond”, the 31-year-old singer said, officially accepting her nomination. “I am really touched and deeply inspired by the refugees’ strength to keep moving forward despite the odds”. Betty G applauded Ethiopia’s generous asylum policy, adding that she prides herself in being a citizen of a country willing to always keep its borders open for those in need.

In her first official engagement with UNHCR recently, Betty G visited Gure-Shombola Camp in the Benishangul-Gumuz Region of Ethiopia where over 3,000 newly arrived South Sudanese refugees have been sheltered. She met with refugee families, women and girls to learn about the situation in South Sudan and their recent displacement.

“It is really shocking to see the enormity of the unmet needs the refugees have”, she told a UNHCR staff after visiting the camp. “I met with children. They brightened up my day; some of them want to be future leaders or doctors; others want to be teachers, even pilots”, she said and added, “It is a beautiful thing to see that, despite their predicament, they still keep their hopes and dreams alive”.

The new UNHCR high profile supporter said she was very inspired to see the motivation of children to be educated, to invest in their future and contribute to their communities, calling for additional support to help children fully realize their ambitions.

Born and raised in Ethiopia, Betty G grew up in a French high school and graduated from college in the French system. Her multicultural background informs her music in every respect, brightly painting her lyrics in French, English, and Amharic; the official language of Ethiopia.

Betty G, has a strong commitment to further humanitarian causes, having actively supported women’s empowerment initiatives in the country. She has performed at charitable concerts, most recently at the festival of water in Ethiopia in April this year, with proceeds going to clean water and sanitation projects.

“After today, my life is going to be changed for good. I know that most of the Ethiopian population face similar problems. But at least they are at home and have the comfort of being at home. Refugees are not at home, they feel lost and in need. I believe that if we could all work together, we can all make a difference for the better.”

Ethiopia, one of the original signatory nations to the 1951 Refugee Convention, is currently host to the second largest refugee population in Africa, sheltering 852,721 registered refugees and asylum seekers, mostly from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan.

Souce: newbusinessethiopia

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Teddy Afro’s album launch stopped by police

Ethipian pop star Teddy Afro
Ethipian pop star Teddy Afro says police demand for permit ridiculous

Authorities in Ethiopia have stopped singer Tewodros Kassahun, popularly known as Teddy Afro, from launching his much-acclaimed album, Ethiopia.

A BBC reporter says federal police showed up at the hotel in Addis Ababa hours before the party and stopped Teddy’s sound team from setting up.

His manager told the BBC that they are yet to get official reasons why the launch party was cancelled.

Teddy’s 15-track album is the fastest-selling album in the country’s history.

Following its release in May this year the album topped the Billboard World Albums chart for weeks.

On his Facebook Page, Teddy Afro has termed the police demand for a permit as ridiculous.

His concert scheduled for the eve of Ethiopian New Year, which falls on 11 September, has also been cancelled in unclear circumstances.

Source: BBC

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“Starboy” giving back – Abel Tesfaye donates USD 100,000 to health center in Uganda

The Weeknd giving back - Abel Tesfaye donates USD 100,000 to health center in Uganda
The Ethiopian Canadian artiste made the donation to the facility in Budondo, Uganda after finding out about French Montana’s work with the health center, reports E! News.

The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) was inspired to support the center after learning of his friend French Montana’s work with Global Citizen and Mama Hope to help raise awareness for Suubi and the people of Uganda.

Montana also donated $100,000 to Suubi and launched an online campaign called #Unforgettable that has helped fund a blood bank, premature incubators, cribs and other maternity supplies.

The Weeknd’s donation enabled Suubi to complete construction of the first floor of the maternity clinic and increase its capacity of serving 56,000 people to 260,000 people.

For more information about #Unforgettable and Suubi, go to

Source: E! News

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Ruth Negga In Full Bloom

In Ireland there weren’t very many black people. I was sort of exotic.

It has been a busy year for Negga. In February she attended the Academy Awards, a best actress nominee for her role in the civil rights drama Loving. Even though she was up against a formidable roster (Emma Stone, Natalie Portman), there was reasonable hope of victory. “The stabbing simplicity of Negga’s acting is breathtaking,” Rolling Stone film critic Peter Travers wrote of her portrayal of Mildred Loving, one half of a mixed-race couple whose marriage was the center of a landmark Supreme Court ruling in the 1960s.

The Oscar went to Stone for La La Land, but the evening saw the relatively unknown Negga, dressed in custom Valentino, catapulted into film and fashion world stardom—a status that seems to have only been magnified by recent red carpet appearances, especially at this year’s Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala.

Negga was born in Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa, in 1982 to a white Irish mother and a black Ethiopian father. In the mid-’80s, during a period of growing political instability, there was “a window during which the educated people began to leave,” she says. “But not my father.”

Instead Ruth and her mother moved to Ireland, and her father, a surgeon, stayed behind. By the time he tried to leave, “the window had closed.” He died when she was seven. “Murdered in a car crash,” she says. “I mean killed in an accident.” They were notified by letter. “It’s not a taboo subject,” she says. “My mom talks about my dad a lot. It’s awful to not know someone who you look like. It’s tragic, but that’s life, isn’t it?”

Read more at Town & Countrymag

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Angelina Jolie Planning Family Trip To Ethiopia To Celebrate Zahara’s Adoption Date

Angelina Jolie Planning Family Trip To Ethiopia To Celebrate Zahara’sAdoption Date
Angelina Jolie planning to bring her family to Ethiopia in July to celebrate 12-year-old daughter Zahara’s adoption anniversary.

Zahara Jolie-Pitt was just six months old when Angelina Jolie adopted her on July 6, 2005. She travelled to Ethiopia with then-boyfriend Brad Pitt, 53, to pick up her new daughter and 12 years later she’s bringing her back to her homeland for the first time. “Angelina is planning a trip to Ethiopia next month to celebrate Zahara’s adoption date. She’s always been very committed to each of the children knowing their birth country, and all about their heritage, so she’s keen for Zahara to spend time there. Angelina will be taking all of the children, and they’re really excited as they all love to travel,” a source close to the 42-year-old actress tells EXCLUSIVELY.

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Battle of the Pyramids: Angelina Jolie’s plan to make movie about Sudan’s Pyramids sparked a row with Egypt

Battle of the Pyramids: Angelina Jolie's plan to make movie about Sudan's Pyramids sparked a row with Egypt

Reports that Hollywood star Angeline Jolie is planning to make a movie about Sudan’s history have sparked a row with Egypt, and BBC Africa’s Mohanad Hashim says it is about much more than who has the biggest pyramids.

The latest twist in a long-running feud between Egyptians and Sudanese is over controversial claims that a film is to be made in Sudan to showcase the country’s contribution to human civilization.

Various media have reported that a Qatari production company would fund the film, which would apparently feature Hollywood stars Angelina Jolie and Leonardo Di Caprio.

It is meant to promote historical tourism in Sudan by narrating the country’s ancient Nubian history.

Read more at BBC

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