Art Review

Jananites: Ethiopia’s first female only band

Zela Gayle

Never in the history of Ethiopian music has there been a creation of an all female band until Jananites, a nine piece band which has three lead vocalists, three guitarists, two keyboardists and a drummer all in their twenties.

Inspired by Addis Gassesse, a renowned Ethiopian music manager who is also behind the making of Jano, the first Ethiopian rock band, and financially supported by Ermiyas Amelga, Ethiopia’s business tycoon, they came together only six months ago but their intention is not to thrive on the current success of their counterpart musicians from Jano, but to show the music industry in Ethiopia that girls only band can be successful too.

Being the first all female band from East Africa, Addis Gassesse says like their twin band Jano he plans to eventually expose Jananites to the international audience worldwide. They had their first gig in April at the Sheraton Addis, capturing the attention of party goers whilst breaking new grounds in helping to modernize the perception of Ethiopian music.

Raising the standards for what is considered to be a common role for female vocalists working in a band on any world stage (as backup singers), then comes the Jananites who at the moment are just performing popular international music and songs of any style. Speaking to this magazine, assistant manager Bezaye Berhanu says, “what makes them special is they have a great team spirit and they always show up on time for rehearsals”.

Certain that they will be going into places as the only all female band formed in Ethiopia, Jananites are preparing for their second performance to an audience inside the Addis Ababa University.  “We are focusing on cover songs by international artists right now and we are especially thankful to Addis Gassesse for providing us the opportunity to express ourselves through music”, lead vocalist Emnet Gezahegn told this magazine.

Behind the public scenes Jananites have now been rehearsing together for six months, five hours per day, four times a week in the Villa music studio located in Piassa. They have just started preparing the composition of songs for the upcoming debut album which will be sung in a compilation of Ethiopian languages including Amharic, Tigrinya, Oromifa, and Guragigna.

Although rock is the style of music that predominantly influences all the band members, the album songs will be a fusion of rhythmic styles and moods of Ethiopian music with that of reggae and rock, bringing about a new and exciting innovation. Songs are not expected to be written based on female empowerment but a more common exploration of themes related to love and friendship.

Having been invited to listen to a couple of songs during their rehearsal I couldn’t help but fall in love with their energetic talents and professional ability to play together harmoniously.

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