Ethio-jazz Icon Hailu Mergia’s New Album

This is Hailu Mergia’s second brand-new studio album on Awesome Tapes from Africa. (#vinyloftheday)

Vinyl of the Day

Ethio-jazz musician Hailu Mergia has a new album on the way.

Titled Yene Mircha, which translates to “my choice” in Amheric, the six-track album is due for release on March 27 via Awesome Tapes from Africa.

The reissue label made its name for reissuing obscure albums from Ghana and the wider region of Africa. Yene Mircha is one of several original releases by the label, expanding their repertoire from the usual reissues.

This is Hailu Mergia’s second brand-new studio album on Awesome Tapes from Africa.

Hailu Mergia is a well-known figure from the label. His 1977 album Tche Belew — recorded with backing band The Walias — was rescued from obscurity by Awesome Tapes in 2014.

The label’s reissue campaign granted Mergia an important place in the narrative of Ethio-jazz and popular Ethiopian music. Previously, the multi-instrumentalist migrated to the United States in the 1980s and stopped performing not long after.

A growing interest in his music allowed Mergia to tour worldwide and record new music aside from his day job as a taxi driver in Washington D.C..

At 74 years old, Mergia appears to be creatively renewed than ever. He’s expanding his sound on Yene Mircha with the help of guest musicians, aside from his newly-established trio with drummer Kenneth Joseph and bassist Alemseged Kebede.

The album is now available for pre-order on vinyl here, and you can preview the album with ‘Abichu Nege Nege’ below.


1. ሰሜንና እና ደቡብ
Semen Ena Debub
North & South
(Hailu Mergia)

2. የኔ ምርጫ
Yene Mircha
My Choice
(Hailu Mergia)

3. ባይኔ ላይ ይሄዳል
Bayine Lay Yihedal
He Walks In My Vision
(Asnakech Worku)

4. አቢቹ ነጋ ነጋ
Abichu Nega Nega
How Are You, Abichu
(trad., arr. Hailu Mergia)

5. የኔ አበባ
Yene Abeba
My Flower
(Hailu Mergia)

6. ሼመንደፈር
Chemin de Fer Railway
(Teddy Afro)

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