Sheba Sahlemariam: ‘The Lion Of Sheba’

Above: Ethiopian born Sheba Sahlemariam’s music is a fusion
of many different cultures.

The Jamica Gleaner
Sadeke Brooks, Staff Reporter
Published: Sunday | December 20, 2009
The singer was born in Ethiopia but her family was exiled from the country when she was only a baby. Since then, she has lived in places like Germany, Guyana, Trinidad, New York, Canada, Kenya, and even Jamaica. Hence, her music is heavily influenced by varied cultures. “We did a lot of travelling when I was young and it has sort of given me a view that is very global. The music that I create sounds as diverse as my life. My life is about growing up in many different places. My life is a fusion of all those things and my music is a fusion,” Sheba told The Sunday Gleaner. “My musical style is fusing all the music that I grew up on; dancehall, reggae, Afro-pop, Ethiopian jazz and urban music. I am fusing all those things which sound like the soundtrack to my life.” The New York-based artiste said reggae and dancehall is also a big part of her music. Read more.

Video: Sheba Sahlemariam Live at Joe’s Pub (New York)

Source: Joe’s Pub

A refugee from the majestic war-torn land of Ethiopia, Sheba Sahlemariam was reared among the concrete jungles of New York City, Europe, the Caribbean and Africa. Named after the Queen of Sheba, famed empress of Ethiopia, to whom her family traces direct ancestry – Sheba Sahlemariam is a cousin to Emperor Haile Selassie – which highlights the serendipitous circumstances that moved her family from Ethiopia to Guyana, where she spent her early childhood and later, Jamaica, which deepened her connection to Reggae and Dancehall, the glue to her global and urban sound. Sheba stirs up a unique musical brew that is a mélange of Reggae grooves, Afro-beat, Ethiopian traditional music and jazz, R&B riffs, 16 bar rhymes, and Dancehall Sing-Jaying –souvenirs from her nomadic life.

Sheba’s gorgeous four octave range, soul stirring, provocative lyrics and fierce ability to dial up a diversity of musical styles puts her at the razor’s edge and will expel you from preconceived definitions of urban, pop and world music.

Watch: “Love This Lifetime” by Sheba Sahlemariam

As early as the age of four, she was singing and making up songs, but it wasn’t until a random meeting in Brooklyn, when Sheba forged a musical partnership with Tommy “Madfly” Faragher, that she finally begin to chip away at her lifelong dream to write and record music. Together they began to collaborate on what would be the basis for her first album: The Lion of Sheba. Songs from the forthcoming album are for real music lovers: big vocals, powerful songwriting and beats that challenge your boundaries. The wait is over. You may not be able to get to Ethiopia, but The Lion of Sheba will bring Ethiopia home to you. The Lioness, Sheba…soon come.


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