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  • The Nile Project Releases Second Album

    Jinja is the long awaite d follow-up to Aswan, the live recording from the Nile Project’s debut concert in 2013.
    Featuring artists from Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, and Uganda, the album consists of ten
    original compositions born during the Nile Project’s 2nd annual musicians Gathering in Jinja, Uganda.


    Each year, the Nile Project convenes a selection of artists from its growing Musicians Collective. A
    phenomenon that moves from music school to composition bootcamp to full-scale rehearsal, musicians from
    the 11 Nile countries explore all manners of combining their diverse languages, musical modes, rhythms,
    timbres, and playing styles. The Nile Gathering is two weeks of musical roulette that gives every artist a
    chance at the driver’s seat. To the listener, the performance is an aural adventure with many unexpected
    twists and textures.


    On the surface, the Nile Project blends traditional musical idioms into one seamless Nile sound. But look a
    little further and you’ll begin to see a 35-member Musicians Collective modeling contemporary organizational
    concepts such as systems thinking, network theory, and participatory leadership.


    The Nile Project is pioneering a new approach to transform transboundary water conflicts by using music to
    ignite cross-cultural empathy and spark environmental curiosity. Recent invitations to lead workshops and
    performances for key diplomats and policymakers at the United Nations, the European Commission, and the
    African Union attest to the capacity of these collaborations to transform the way we think and interact with
    respect to the many challenges we collectively face.


    Jinja captures cross-cultural musical collaborations among artists sharing diverse relationships to world’s
    longest river. Kindred harps and resonant lyres from the Nile’s sources in East Africa and Ethiopia to its deltas
    in Sudan and Egypt have reunited to learn new musical modes while buzzing timbres and ingenious
    polyrhythms support vocals in six languages.

    Click here for information on how to help the Nile Project

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  • AddisFortune interview with guitar virtuoso Michael Hailu


    Guitar virtuoso Michael Hailu, a long time member and musical director of Jano Band, has always marched to his own drum, following his own musical journey. Michael is gaining wide critical acclaim and attracting legions of fans. He has played a key role in the local music scene as a producer of many popular local artists such as Michael Belayneh, Teddy Afro and Abinet Agonafir. With his signature guitar close by, and his warm, open personality in full display, the 28-year-old shares his experiences to SAMSON BERHANE, FORTUNE STAFF WRITER, inside his studio, about music, life and how he became interested in playing the guitar by watching a video of Michael Jackson and his guitarist. With his unique sound and contribution to the advancement of Ethiopian music, it is easy to predict why he is indeed a star in the making.

    Fortune: What inspired you to become an artist?

    I have loved the sound of a guitar since my younger days. I discovered Jennifer Batten play in a Michael Jackson concert and I was impressed. How could I not be that, when I was discovering something unique and beautiful? For the longest time, playing with my guitar became my best memorable hours well spent.

    Then I also discovered other kinds of music, including gospel and popular music. For me, music is something that takes you away to moments that mean something for you. It takes me back to the days I would walk into a church and receive some peace of mind. As far as popular music is concerned, I first became a member of a group, founded by popular artist Dawit Tsige.

    Q: Do you recall the excitement you had when your work came out?

    I most definitely do. It was my effort with Abel Mulugeta on the album “Tegerime” and then I got to work with Teddy Afro. That was a milestone moment for me. It is very hard to identify which song made me known to the public. I worked in many bands, however, my work with Michael Belayneh, the song Tizita must have been the one that made me, humbly, a household name.

    Q: Jano is known for its unique sound.

    Before my work with Jano, I was mainly interested in rock music. That is more of my style. Jano has a sound that is mixed, a reflection of our diversity in contemporary, jazz, and soul music and gospel.

    I brought the idea to the group. However, it was Bill Laswell (former partner of Gigi), a famous American producer, who worked with the likes of U2, who brought us together. Since he was our producer at the time, we followed suit and accepted his advice. We are known to experiment, to discover all unique styles.

    Read the full interview here

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  • Who are Yegna dubbed the "Ethiopia's Spice Girls"?

    • Its members are all twenty-something Ethiopians: Rahel Getu, 22, Zebiba Girma, 22, Eyerusalem Kelemework, 27, Lemlem Haile Michael, 26 and Teref Kassahun, 26
    • They adopt stage names: Lemlem, Emuye, Sara, Mimi and Melat
    • The pop group was set up in 2013 to "empower young women" including challenging young marriage and gender-based violence
    • Yegna is pronounced "Yen-ya", which means "Ours" in Amharic
    • Their catchphrase is: "We are here. We will not be silenced"
    • Girl Effect said Yegna reach 8.5 million people in Ethiopia through its radio drama, music and talk shows

    Source: Girl Effect

    Yegna, Ethiopia's 'Spice Girls', lose UK funding

    Yegna has been the subject of a long-running campaign by the Daily Mail. It dubbed the band "Ethiopia's Spice Girls" saying that grants to the group were a waste of money.

    The UK's Department for International Development said its partnership with Girl Effect has ended following the review, but insisted that "empowering women and girls around the world remains a priority".

    It said the decision had not been influenced by press coverage of Yegna.

    Read more here

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  • Britain ends millions in funding for Ethiopia girl band


    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) -- Britain says it has ended millions of dollars in funding for an Ethiopian girl band, amid growing criticism at home of overseas aid. Yegna, sometimes called "Ethiopia's Spice Girls," addresses women's issues in the East African country.

    A statement Friday from the Department for International Development says empowering women and girls remains a priority for Britain, "but we judge there are more effective ways to invest UK aid."

    The move comes after reports of the band receiving another $6.3 million. The five-member band uses a radio show and music and drama productions to create awareness about forced marriage, violence, teen pregnancy and dropping out of school.

    The Girl Effect project that launched Yegna confirms the British decision. Chief executive Farah Ramzan Golant says, "New ideas are often resisted and sometimes willfully misrepresented."

    Source: AP

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  • The Weeknd: "I Represent Ethiopia"

    The 26-year-old better known as The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye), who on this Sunday in November is ­preparing to release Starboy, the follow-up to his 2015 pop breakthrough Beauty Behind the Madness -- opens up In rare Interview with Billboard about paparazzi, overcoming stage fright and his roots.

    Excerpt from Abel Tesfaye's interview with Billboard

    You’re representing for different ­places — Toronto, Ethiopia. How do you approach that?
    I made it known that I’m Ethiopian. I put it in my music, and my style of singing is very Ethiopian-inspired. I’ve never even been there. I’d love to go home and see my roots.

    Where would you direct a Weeknd fan in terms of Ethiopian music?
    Aster Aweke, for sure. You can hear her voice at the end of “False Alarm” on the new album. Her voice is the greatest thing you’ll ever hear. There’s a great composer named Mulatu Astatke, he’s probably the most famous Ethiopian musician right now. Jim Jarmusch used his music. I’d love to meet him and work with him somehow. Mahmoud Ahmed is a great singer, and so is Tilahun Gessesse. Teddy Afro is more of a pop singer, great voice. This is what I grew up on. I’d wake up in the morning, and my mom would be listening to all this stuff while she was making coffee. I’m working on University of Toronto getting its own class [on Ethiopian language studies].

    Related: The Weeknd helping resurrect a lost Ethiopian language

    Read more »
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