Ethiopia Mourns Elias Melka

Musician and composer Elias Melka died on 4 October. (Music in Africa)

Music in Africa

The news of his death was made public by Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC)… FBC said Milka was receiving treatment for diabetes and kidney complications at a hospital in the country’s capital.

Several prominent Ethiopians have shared their fondest memories of the musician, while others have spoken about what his music means to them.

“Saddened to learn the passing of renowned lyricist and composer, Elias Melka. We lost a talented and influential figure in the music industry. My condolences to his family and fans,” Addis Ababa mayor Takele Uma Banti said.

Radio and TV journalist Berhane Negussie said: “What heartbreaking news. Elias Melka was a musical genius of our generation This is a loss to the Ethiopian music industry. Not only as a musician, but he was also an amazing and extremely kind as a person. Rest in heaven, my brother.

Ethiopian political analyst Esayas Girmay wrote: “Farewell to a legend! Elias transformed modern Ethiopian music like no other. His influence on traditional Amharic music was also something to remember him by. Tigrigna, Oromifa, Kunama and Guragigna have also benefited from his amazing talent and creativity.”

Melka began his career in the 1990s after graduating from Yared Music School where he majored in cello, piano and the krar.

Melka’s discography includes more than 40 albums, which mainly contain socially conscious songs. His songs touched on topics such as HIV/AIDS, road accidents, African unity and minorities. In 2003, he composed ‘Negarit’ (War Drum), which highlighted the plight of about 13 million people facing starvation in the country.

The award-winning musician composed music for prominent Ethiopian artists, most notably activist Teddy Afro, Gossaye Tesfaye, Zeritu Kebede, Haile Roots, Mikia Behailu, Eyob Mekonnen, Michael Belayneh, Aster Girma, Abush Zeleke, Berry, Gedion Daniel and Dan Admassu.

He will be remembered for being one of the first musicians to introduce the one-man band studio production concept in Ethiopia and for being part of the team that launched the Awtar Music App this year.

Before his death, he was one of the judges on the Fana Lamrot talent show, which airs on FBC.

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