OBITUARY: Influential Ethiopian Producer Amha Eshèté Dies at 74

Amha Eshete, the Founder of Amha Records -the pioneering record company whose work from the "golden era" of Ethiopian music is now enshrined in the world-famous éthiopiques CD series - has died at the age of 74. “The Amha Records catalog includes more than 100 vinyl references, released between 1969 and 1975. (Courtesy photo)

World Music Central

Amha Eshèté, a highly influential Ethiopian music producer and founder of Amha Records, died on April 30, 2021. The Amha Records label released iconic recordings of Ethiojazz and Ethiopop rooted in traditional music. These releases captured the golden era of Ethiopian music. The Amha recordings were licensed to French world music label Buda Musique and received worldwide distribution and critical acclaim as part of the successful Ethiopiques series.

Gilles Fruchaux (Buda Musique) and Francis Falceto (collections éthiopiques & ethioSonic) issued a press release: “The departure of our friend Amha Eshèté (Amha Records) from Ethiopia’s great modern music scene follows five weeks after the death of Ali Tango (Kaifa Records).

“A music lover through and through, a lone pioneer of record production in his country, a daring young entrepreneur, an alternative activist before his time (and something of a combative dude), a gentleman outlaw, Amha managed to circumvent Emperor Haile-Selassie’s state monopoly which did not publish any modern music and banned the importation and production of records. Amha Eshèté said «I had a gut feeling that it was the thing to do. I thought, nobody’s going to kill me for that. At most I might land in jail for a while. »

“The Amha Records catalog includes more than 100 vinyl references, released between 1969 and 1975. The very essence of Ethiopian pop golden oldies. Nearly all of them have been reissued in the Éthiopiques series. Ethiopian pop is now firmly established, everywhere.

“Without Amha Records and Kaifa Records, there would have been no Ethiopiques.

“Thank you Amha. Thank you Ali. Rest in peace.”

Related:

TADIAS Interview: Amha Eshete & Contribution of Amha Records to Modern Ethiopian Music

How Ethiopian Music Went Global: Interview with Francis Falceto

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