Washington Post on Tommy T’s New Song

Thomas “Tommy T” Gobena (standing) and Mahmoud Ahmed (seated). (Bereket Essayas and Nebiyou Elias)

The Washington Post

Tommy T wrote a great song. Then he convinced one of his heroes to sing it.

Thomas “Tommy T” Gobena had all the pieces of a terrific song. He had a fistful of intricate melodies, inspired by Ethiopian folk music and shimmering like rare jewels. There was a thick reggae pulse — a thump masquerading as a lilt. And, of course, there was that low, latent, guiding groove coming from Tommy’s own bass guitar. Now he just needed someone to sing it.

Jump ahead to a Stephen Marley concert at Washington’s 9:30 Club at which Tommy spotted one of his musical heroes dancing in the wings. It was the legendary vocalist Mahmoud Ahmed. Was this really happening? Here was one of the greatest Ethiopian singers alive moving his body to a reggae beat. “I heard his voice on the track in that moment,” Tommy says.

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