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Selam Festival Addis: Adding one more color

Mahlet fasil

Recent times have undoubtedly seen an increase in the number of concerts and musical shows given out in Addis Abeba. However, the city can still not pride itself in the wealth of recreational activities it offers for its residents. Outdoor musical festivals have typically been lacking. Selam Festival Addis (SFA) hopes to fill a gap in that regard. In its fourth edition this year, the festival stages outdoor concerts involving local and international artists.

Organized by Selam Ethiopia in collaboration with Yisakal Entertainment this year’s music festival was held in Floral Tropical Garden around Bole area on January 17th – 18th, 2015. The festival brought together artists from countries like Kenya, Mali, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa Switzerland and Sweden. The organizers believe the event creates commercial opportunities for companies, organizations and artists in the music sector.

Alongside the musical shows, workshops and practical training opportunities were provided on topics as varied as sound and light engineering as well as event management. Local musicians, technicians and professionals were targeted to benefit from these workshops. What makes this year’s event special was also the fact that the role of the visually impaired and blind on the Ethiopian music industry was highlighted.

The festival adds one more color to the city’s cultural life and gives residents as well as tourists a chance to enjoy music while having a good time.
“We see Selam Festival Addis growing to become the largest festival in Africa,” says Teshome Wondimu, director and founder of the festival. “Besides entertaining music lovers the festival is geared towards raising capacities, provide expert exchange, open forums for discussions and also [opens doors] for collaborations at various forums.”

Here are some of the star-studded artists who contributed to the uniqueness of this year’s Selam festival:

Samuel Yirga (Eth)

Samuel Yirga is a young Ethiopian musician and composer. Samuel is one of Ethiopia’s most promising young musicians and composers and in recent years, and has gained wider international recognition through his touring and recording with Dub Colossus fusing traditional Azmari music, ethio-jazz, dub, and reggae. Guzo (Journey) is Samuel Yirga’s debut album, recorded in Addis Ababa and Real World Studios. The album is just the start of Samuel’s journey, where he has explored Ethio-jazz, soul and funk, American jazz, and Latin and classical music.



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Sarabi (Ken)

SARABI was formed in 2005 and has in the recent years proved to be one of the most promising Afro Fusion Band in Kenya. The group is made up of 8 young Men hailing from the Eastlands Slums of Nairobi. All the members started playing music at an early age of 11 yrs and have over the years worked together to create one of the most solid bands in the Kenyan Music Scene. Their music, made up of heavy traditional Kenyan rhythms, Benga and a blend of Western sounds has proved to be the missing link in Afro-fusion.



Michael Belayneh (Eth)

Michael Belayneh was born and raised in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. Music, for Michael, has always been a passion to live for. While attending formal education at AAU, he also started taking Piano lessons at Yared Music School with a private tutor, on a part time basis. There, he confirmed his talent for music particularly for singing. He later joined Medina Band as a part time English song singer. In those years, he has been playing at various night clubs in town with Medina and Express bands.



Tadele Gemmemchu (Eth)

Tadele Gemmechu is a leading Afan Oromo singer in Ethiopia. His love songs are mix of traditional and modern songs that bridge generations. He has toured across the world collaborating with fellow artistes.

Habib Koité (Mali)

Koité was born in 1958 to musical parents, from whom he learned instrumentation by watching and listening. He joined the Bamako National Institute of Arts and became a conductor in 1978 after only six months of playing. He graduated in 1982, and formed his band Bamada in 1988.
Koité is known primarily for his unique approach to playing the guitar by tuning it on a pentatonic scale and playing on open strings as one would on a kamale n’goni. Other pieces of his music sound more like the blues or flamenco which are two styles he learned under Khalilou Traore.

Gnučči (Swe)

Ana Rab, better known as Gnučči, , is a rapper, singer, song writer, performer who established herself with her very own and unique mix of club music. Gnuččis music is an raw combination of pop, rap, dancehall, grime and house, or simply melodic rap and vocals on hard energetic beats, and all at the same time.

The official debut ‘‘Oh My Goodness!’’ went straight into the iTunes Top 10 list, won different prices in Sweden and her patented energetic live performances have made Gnucci to one of Sweden’s best live acts.



Helen Berhe (Eth)

Helen Berhe is an Ethiopian rising star who is best known for her cover song Uzaza Allina which was originally released by Nada Algesa. Since her childhood, Helen had a special affection for music and dance. In 2010 Helen released her new album titled Tasfelegnaleh (I Need You!), which took three years to complete and was composed by two best known Ethiopian composers Abegaz Kbrework and Wondimeneh Assefa.


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