Art Section

Ethiopia’s Emerging Art Scene Pits Creativity Against Profits

A lunch crowd at Makush Art Gallery and Restaurant in Addia Ababa, popular with foreigners and tourists. (Photo: James Jeffrey)

Aljazeera America

By James Jeffrey

July 28, 2014

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Tesfaye Hiwet started visiting his homeland from the U.S. shortly after the 1991 revolution that brought down Ethiopia’s communist-inspired military dictatorship known as the Derg. One reason was to source art for his Washington-based restaurant and nightclub.

After noticing the lack of galleries in the Ethiopian capital, he moved back to Addis Ababa 12 years ago and opened the Makush Art Gallery and Restaurant, starting with a handful of artists. Nowadays, every wall in Makush is blanketed with vivid Ethiopian paintings depicting scenes ranging from monks praying in the dawn half-light to bustling markets and images of wide-eyed, elongated women.

Addis Ababa has an active art community that can benefit from the lucrative sales at Makush, which now has about 70 artists on its books and a collection of more than 650 paintings.

But not all the city’s artists want to get involved with Makush because of its unabashed commercial focus — at the sacrifice, they argue, of artistic merit. They worry the gallery represents an unfettered art market where lack of analysis and criticism can compromise artistic integrity, drive runaway prices and lead to the prevalence of mediocre art that doesn’t express the true range of artistic talent simmering away.

“Many artists are increasingly enticed to market-driven productions,” said Elizabeth Giorgis, an art historian and director of the Gebre Kristos Desta Center, a modern art museum in Addis Ababa. “The current Ethiopian art market has produced a dark side where prices are ineptly assessed and fixed at exorbitant prices that do not warrant the credibility or skills of the artists.”

But an emergent modern and contemporary art scene in energetic flux is a stark contrast from when Ethiopia had no market at all.

Read more at Aljazeera America »

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American Artist Lecture: Julie Mehretu at Tate Modern in London

Julie Mehretu at her studio in New York. (Photograph: Tim Knox)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, July 17th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — Ethiopian-born American painter Julie Mehretu is featured in the upcoming fifth American Artist Lecture Series at the Tate Modern in London on September 22, 2014. “This series seeks to bring the greatest living modern and contemporary American artists to the UK.” The program is a partnership between Art in Embassies, Tate Modern and US Embassy London.

Julie, who was born in Addis Ababa in 1970 and immigrated to the United States with her family in 1977, is one of the leading contemporary artists in the United States and one of two Ethiopian-born artists whose work is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art (the other artist is Skunder Boghossian). Julie, who currently lives and works in New York, has received numerous international recognition for her work including the American Art Award from the Whitney Museum of American Art and the prestigious MacArthur Fellow award. She had residencies at the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston (1998–99), the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2001), the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota (2003), and the American Academy in Berlin (2007).

If You Go:
American Artist Lecture: Julie Mehretu
Tate Modern, Starr Auditorium
Monday 22nd September 2014 At 18:30
Click here to book your ticket.

Related:
Julie Mehretu on Africa’s Emerging Presence in Contemporary Art

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Grammy-nominated, Singer/Songwriter Wayna Returns to the Blue Note NYC

Wayna (Woyneab Wondwossen) is an Ethiopian-born, Grammy-nominated R&B singer. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) – “I’ve always been a bit of an expat,” says Grammy-nominated, Ethiopian-born, singer/songwriter, Wayna, who is scheduled to perform at the Blue Note in New York on Monday July 21st. Wayna is currently promoting her latest album The Expats. The CD, which The Washington Post calls “brilliant,” is a fusion of diverse genres of world music including Rock, African, Reggae, Soul and R&B sounds.

“I want this album to be about exploring and expressing all the ways in which I and every one of us are unique, culturally or otherwise, and to celebrate those differences unapologetically,” she adds. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

If You Go:
Wayna at the Blue Note
Monday, July 21st, 2014
Showtime: 10:30PM
Doors Open at 9:45PM
131 West 3rd Street
New York, NY 10012
Telephone: 212-475-8592
RSVP at www.bluenote.net

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Ethiopian Film ‘Asni’ to Screen in Washington, DC – July 19th and 20th

The late artist Asnaketch Worku is the subject of the new film "Asni." (Photo: Courtesy the filmmakers)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Friday, July 11th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — The new documentary Asni: Courage Passion & Glamor in Ethiopia (directed by Rachel Samuel and edited & co-produced by Yemane Demissie), which chronicles the life and times of Asnaketch Worku, one of the most talented and controversial performing Ethiopian artists of her time, will screen at the Washington DC Jewish Community Center on Saturday, July 19th and Sunday July 20th.

Per the director: “When I was a 4-year old kid in Addis Ababa listening to my father’s radio I heard a singer who mesmerized me. In an unknowing visceral response, Asnaketch Worku took root in my soul. Decades later it was an almost pre-destined privilege to direct a documentary on this extraordinary artist who is as much a cultural icon to Ethiopians as Billie Holiday is to Americans and Edith Piaf to the French. Asnaketch lived her life on the edge of her artistry, over the edge of her passions. But to separate Asnaketch from the social and political climate of conservative Ethiopia, particularly in 50’s and 60’s was impossible. Artists in that time were looked down upon, called derogatorily, Azmari, which the church deemed as “…those not going to heaven.” So this doc is as much about my country, my music, my culture as it is about this original being, Asnaketch, who is a substantive part of the fabric of Ethiopia, past and present.”

The film is also scheduled be screened at Africa World Documentary Film Festival in Bellville, South Africa (July 28-August 2, 2014), London, UK (August 30-September 9, 2014) and Kingston, Jamaica (October 2-5, 2014).

In a recent interview with Tadias Magazine Rachel Samuel shared that the movie took a little over four years to complete. “Asnaketch revealed herself slowly as we got to know each other over the years,” Rachel says. “And once trust was established, to get the best of her took a few interviews.”

Below is the trailer:

Asni Documentary from Samuel Overton Photography on Vimeo.


If You Go:
‘Asni’ Screening
Washington DC Jewish Community Center
Saturday & Sunday 19th & 20th of July
Time: 3pm and 5pm
1529 16th Street NW, Washington DC 20036
Theatre J
Tickets: www.eventbrite.com
More info at: http://washingtondcjcc.org/center-for-arts/theater-j/

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Ethiopian Pianist Girma Yifrashewa at Bethesda Blues and Jazz Club

Pianist and Composer Girma Yifrashewa (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, June 28th, 2014

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) — Ethiopian pianist and composer Girma Yifrashewa will celebrate the release of his new solo piano album, Love and Peace, with a live performance on July 30th at Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club in Bethesda, Maryland.

Girma’s latest album was recorded last year in Brooklyn, New York.  Released by the Unseen Worlds record label, the CD features Girma’s arrangement of The Shepherd with the Flute — a short reflective and romantic piece originally composed by the late Professor Ashenafi Kebede — as well as his own compositions based on traditional Ethiopian melodies, such as Ambassel, Chewata, Sememen, and his favorite Elilta.

Following his debut New York appearance at the Issue Project Room in Brooklyn on June 8th, 2013, The New York Times described Girma as offering “a rare and fascinating example of aesthetic adaptation and convergence.”

“Born 1967 in Addis Ababa, Girma Yifrashewa combines the ecstasy of Ethiopian harmony with the grandeur of virtuoso piano technique into an effortlessly enjoyable mixture,” the press release states. “Trained in Bulgarian conservatory, the Royal Academy of Music in London, and the Hochschule fur Music Und Theater in Leipzig as a highly accomplished performer of classical repertoire, Yifrashewa has chosen to remain in Ethiopia, helping to forge a classical tradition for his country. Currently Yifrashewa works to promote Ethiopian and Classical Music by touring throughout Africa and Europe.”



If You Go:
Girma Yifrashewa in Bethesda, Maryland
Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club
July 30, 2014
7:30PM / $15
7719 Wisconsin Ave
Bethesda, MD 20814
Tickets at: www.instantseats.com
www.bethesdabluesjazz.com

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New York Exhibition of Recent Works by Awol Erizku (June 19 – August 15)

Awol Erizku, 26, is an Ethiopian-born artist who grew up in New York. (Photo: Hasted Kraeutler Gallery)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Friday, June 20th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — An exhibition of new photographs, sculptures and installations by Awol Erizku opened yesterday at Hasted Kraeutler gallery in New York. The show entitled The Only Way Is Up runs through August 15, 2014.

Born in Ethiopia in 1988 Awol Erizku, who grew up in the Bronx, received his B.A. from The Cooper Union college in 2010, and completed his M.F.A from Yale in 2014.

“Awol Erizku is a cultural collagist, a creative synthesizer bridging eras and cultures, unifying the vocabulary of the art-elite and the New York City streets, the high and the low, the past and a very singular present, The Only Way is Up, takes its title from a Quincy Jones record he often listened to with his parents as a child—an album whose message was to empower and uplift,” states a press release from Hasted Kraeutler gallery. “Although Erizku’s work abounds with signifiers and indicators of African American culture, it speaks more broadly to a universal quest for self-discovery.”

Paramount among Awol’s interests, the gallery notes, “is the re-contextualization and re-purposing of ready-made objects—especially those vested with powerful associations or connotations. Like a contemporary anthropologist, he prowls the urban landscape of his daily life for items and materials that speak to him, procuring vintage T-shirts, used records, or even plastic bags of recycled soda cans—keeping his eyes open for things other people might disregard. He then subverts their expected function making them his own.”

The press release adds: “Erizku’s works are shaped by similarly timely uses of contemporary lexicon. Featuring an irregular square of synthetic black leather hung on the wall, which serves as a sort of canvas for evidence of Erizku’s urban wanderings, an old Michael Jackson record is juxtaposed with the word “#TRILL”—a combination of the words “True” and “Real”—written in neon. In another, a tourist-gift-shop style Obama T-shirt is placed in dialogue with “#WAVY.” Both words are evocative of an urban vernacular that describes a state of euphoria, and, when viewed in the context of the cultural and political icons Erizku has placed them with, they produce a compelling, unexpected harmony.”

If You Go:
Awol Erizku: “The Only Way Is Up”
Hasted Kraeutler Gallery
537 West 24th Street
New York, NY 10011
Show ends on August 15, 2014
Phone: 212 627 0006
www.hastedkraeutler.com

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2014 Skoto Gallery Summer Show Features Work by Wosene Kosrof

Berkeley, California-based painter and mixed-media artist Wosene Kosrof is best known for his work that incorporate Amharic alphabetic characters into his prolific compositions. (Photo credit: Alan Bamberger)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Friday, June 20th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — The 2014 Summer Show at Skoto Gallery (one of the first contemporary African art galleries in the United States), which opened on Thursday, June 19th, features selected works by a diverse group of international artists, including Ethiopian-born painter Wosene Kosrof.

Wosene, who was raised in Ethiopia but has lived in the United States for over 30 years, uses Amharic scripts as a foundation in his playful signature compositions that he calls “Fidel Chewata.” Wosene’s works are inspired by “movies, bookstores, photography, landscape, fashion, colors, conversations,” he says. “I am a loner so listening to jazz, sitting at cafes, watching street lights, people, car movements, all give continuous formation to my paintings.”

The Skoto exhibition highlights fifteen additional artists: Ade Adekola, Obiora Anidi, Ifeoma Anyaeji, SoHyun Bae, Uchay Joel Chima, Sokey Edorh, Diako, Peter Wayne Lewis, Aime Mpane, Ines Medina, Chriss Nwobu, Pefura, Piniang, Ines Medina and Juliana Zevallos.

If You Go:
SKOTO GALLERY
Summer Show 2014
June 19 – July 31, 2014
529 West 20th Street,
5FL.
New York, NY 10011
Gallery Hours
Tuesday to Saturday
11 AM – 6 PM
212-352 8058
info@skotogallery.com
www.skotogallery.com

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Kibrom’s Tizita: Fusion of Ethiopian Folk with Jazz and Gospel Sounds

Musician Kibrom Birhane. (Photograph courtesy Tsehai Records)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, June 16th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — Learning how to play the krar, a five stringed traditional Ethiopian lyre, at age 8, Kibrom Birhane found himself enthralled by Orthodox chanting. “Always it moves me when I hear music,” he says. And from that time on he knew he wanted to pursue a career in music. Kibrom eventually began teaching piano to other students for about three years before receiving a scholarship to attend the Los Angeles College of Music where he developed a passion beyond Ethiopian folk music, and became a songwriter and composer focusing on the fusion of Ethiopian folk with jazz and gospel sounds. His debut album entitled ‘Kibrom’s Tizita’ was recently released by Tsehai Records, a new division of Tsehai Publishers. Kibrom describes his new album as “an exploration of Ethiopian heritage through folk and pop music with a jazz backbone.”

Kibrom is also a record and mixing engineer and says he “learned to play all of these different roles over time, and with that came new innovations” in his music and sound. His solo pieces are among his most personal works, and Kibrom shares that they are “an expression of what I feel at the moment. I don’t study or learn solos; I just play them.”

Kibrom hopes to reach the younger generation with his music. He sees the power of fusion as a way to expose individuals to Ethiopian music while adopting a style that is already familiar to them (such as jazz). Kibrom has already garnered some success including writing the score for the documentary film ‘Sincerely Ethiopia,’ singing in the award-winning documentary ‘Get Together Girls,’ and composing music for the documentary on the African Union’s 50th year celebration.

“The raw sincerity of Birhane’s music seeks to make strong connections with listeners as they are transported on a musical journey. And a journey it is – Kibrom uses Ethiopian scales, which are rarely heard in Western music. The distinct nature of these scales makes for hypnotic listening,” states Tsehai Records.

Watch: Zelesegna : ዘለሰኛ/ by Kibrom Birhane

Watch: Kibrom Birhane – Broken But Beautiful

For more information please visit www.tsehaipublishers.com, or email at info@tsehaipublishers.com. Kibrom’s CD is also available on iTune , Amazon, Google Play and Rhapsody.

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Hyundai USA Releases World Cup AD “Epic Battle” Video by Wondwossen Dikran

Hyundai U.S.A 2014 FIFA World Cup AD featuring Work by Wondwossen Dikran. (Courtesy photograph)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, June 14th, 2014

New York (TADIAS) — Hyundai USA has released its latest Because Fútbol 2014 FIFA World Cup AD video featuring work by Wondwossen Dikran of Activator Pictures, who is one of two Ethiopian artists recruited to work on the project by Associate Creative Director David Mesfin. The video entitled “Epic Battle” highlights some amazing freestyle soccer by amateur players from Southern California. “They were all young, full of energy and totally devoted to the sport,” Wondwossen told Tadias Magazine.

Watch: Hyundai | 2014 FIFA World Cup™ | Because Fútbol | “Epic Battle” (Hyundai USA)


Related:
David Mesfin: 2014 Hyundai FIFA World Cup Ad Features Work by Ethiopian Artists

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In Pictures: The Changing of Ethiopia By Photographer Michael Tsegaye

(Photographs: By Michael Tsegaye)

The New York Times

By DAVID GONZALEZ

May 12, 2014

Change is the one constant in Michael Tsegaye’s photographs.

Over the last 16 years, he has been making pictures of rural and urban Ethiopia as his homeland transforms itself. He captures sweeping panoramas, of markets springing up along newly built roads, or small details, like the cracked images on gravestones being moved to make way for development, or the rapidly disappearing communities in Addis Ababa that have been gentrified with new high-rises.

The latter forms the core of “Future Memories,” a series he started eight years ago, when architect friends gave him a heads-up on old neighborhoods about to be steamrollered.

“I know the city is going to be different in 10 years,” Mr. Tsegaye said in a Skype interview. “It’s going to be a memory for me, these pictures. You know the saying, ‘You don’t know what you have until it’s gone’? That was in my mind when I took these pictures. I tried to work with that.”

Read more and view the photos at NYT.

Related:
Tadias Q & A With Photographer Michael Tsegaye: Addis Ababa’s Red Light District

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‘Difret’: Audience Reaction at 2014 New African Films Festival (Video)

At the 2014 Annual New African Films Festival in Silver Spring, Maryland. (Image courtesy: Tsedey Aragie)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Washington, D.C. (TADIAS) — During the Q&A session at the 10th Annual New African Films Festival — that was held at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, Maryland this past weekend — filmmaker Zeresenay Mehari and producer Mehret Mandefro, fielded questions regarding their award winning movie Difret, including how they came across the epic story. Zeresenay shared that in 2005 he had met Meaza Ashenafi’s brother at a dinner where he heard about his sister.  Zeresenay recalled being told “you should make a movie about my sister.”

“Yeah, I laughed about it and then I typed up her name and a thousand pages came up.” He added: “And what she was able to [do] in Ethiopia at that time blew me away. And I wanted to meet her and I asked to meet her, and a couple of months later we met. She was very skeptical that a man, an Ethiopian man at that, wanted to do a story about women’s issues.”

Difret, which won the World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, narrates the true story of a teenager who was a victim of telefa (the archaic custom of marriage by abduction in Ethiopia) and later gained public attention when she was arrested and charged with murder for the killing of her abductor. The girl’s subsequent acquittal on the grounds of self defense is owing not in small part to the courageous and tireless effort of the now legendary lawyer Meaza Ashenafi.

“Bringing this issue of gender to the surface and making a difference in Ethiopian law is really very important,” said Martha Negash, an audience member and a former law school classmate of Meaza, emphasizing that she’s proud her friend’s work.

“I have a lot of respect for Mehret and Zeresenay for choosing to really talk and discuss in detail about women’s issues,” shared Dr. Menna Demessie. “Of all the films they could have made to make a film about the struggles of young women in Ethiopia, while also being very sensitive to the culture and tradition, I really respect them for that.”  Menna added: “First of all its based on a true story, so the fact that there is success or light at the end of the tunnel is key to the fact that there are women who against all odds are still fighting on behalf of other young women and willing to put themselves at the forefront of these issues that I find very empowering.”

Among those who watched the film included Ambassador Imru Zelleke, “Very well done,” he noted. “Both from the technical point of view and the history reflects the present day Ethiopia with all its contradictions between the old and new. It was marvelous, a first class job.”

Asked to name additional social subjects that he would like to explore in future cinema projects, Zeresenay told Tadias that he is interested in tackling immigration. “I want to talk about that,” he said. “I also have a story that I wanted to do about human trafficking and prostitution. That’s an issue that is affecting us a great deal.” He cautioned: “Of course, they are far away from being full conceptualized works.”

Mwiza Munthhali, Public Outreach Director of Trans Africa, and one of the presenters of the New African Films Festival, stated that compared to when they first started showing at AFI Silver Theatre nearly a decade ago, the number of films shown at the annual festival has doubled with 18 African motion pictures curated from all parts of the continent making their debut in 2014. “The number of films to choose from has also expanded stupendously in the last ten years,” Munthhali said.

Below is Tadias Magazine’s video coverage of the event by Tsedey Aragie.



Related:
Tadias Interview with Zeresenay Mehari & Mehret Mandefro
‘Difret’ Wins Panorama at Berlin Film Festival
Ethiopian film confronts marriage by abduction (BBC)
‘Difret’ Wins World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award at Sundance Festival
Tadias Interview with Filmmaker Yidnekachew Shumete

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10 Arts and Culture Stories of 2013

(File images)

Tadias Magazine
By Tigist Selam

Published: Sunday, December 29th, 2013

Kelela- Underground Queen

This past October, The Guardian dubbed Ethiopian-American musician Kelela Mizanekristos as “one to watch.” She recently released her first mixtape, Cut 4 Me, on the Los Angeles-based Fade to Mind record label. In her interview with Billboard Kelela shares that “with the mix tape I was presenting you with ideas. I presented the idea and then I let it go a little bit. I wasn’t trying to make every song an epic pop radio hit.” But for her upcoming album she says “I’d like to take it further. I want to make it so that every song is super, ultra epic and there are a million interludes.”


Kelela (Courtesy photo)

I was immediately drawn to Kelela’s music. Her sound is as effortless and distinct as her look. I can’t wait to see her music videos that will capture her beautiful face and will elevate her music. You can hear all of her songs here until then: https://soundcloud.com/kelelam.

Sheba Film & Arts Festival- 10 Years Strong


At the 10th anniversary celebration of the Sheba Film Festival on June 22, 2013. (Tadias Photographs)

That Sheba Film Festival has survived ten years in New York City where there are film festivals all year round bewilders me. It’s a testament to its uniqueness. The annual event also highlights works by local Ethiopian artists. Throughout the years, I have seen Ethiopian films at the festival that I would have never had a chance to see anywhere else on the big screen. As the Ethiopian film world continues to grow I look forward to the expansion of Sheba Film Festival throughout the U.S. More info here: www.binacf.org.

Nishan- A Young Woman’s Twisted Journey


Poster for the movie Nishan. (Photo by Matt Andrea)

When I sat down to ask Yidnekachew Shumete, the director of Nishan, about his inspiration for the film, I was surprised to find out that he didn’t have a woman in mind for the lead. However, it was inspiring to see a brave, complex female lead in an Ethiopian film. After being selected to participate in workshops during the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, Yidnekachew presented Nishan at the Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO) – the largest film festival in the African continent – before screening it at various international locations including at the Seattle International Film Festival and in New York City. I truly enjoyed watching all of the multi-dimensional characters as the story slowly unfolded in great suspense. It was one of the most well-made Ethiopian films I’ve seen in a long time. Watch the trailer here.

Aida Muluneh – An Eye for Beauty

I’ve been following Aida’s work for many years. This past year her solo show So Long A Letter in Addis Ababa was based on the groundbreaking novel by the Senegalese writer, Mariama Ba and combined mixed media with photography. “In a sense it was my ‘So Long Letter’ to all the women in the country who often go unrecognized or are under-appreciated in our society,” Aida says. “I have always loved the book and the fact that it was written in a letter format.” You may get a glimpse of her work here.

Mizan Kidanu- Embodied Simplicity

Sometimes bluesy, sometimes jazzy and always soulful Mizan’s voice leaves you wanting more. There is a certain warmth that she brings to every song and an honesty in her lyrics that demands your attention. I look forward to what the future holds for this young songstress. I am mesmerized with the simplicity of this song and video.

Deseta- When Old Meets New


Design by Maro Haile. (Image courtesy of the artist)

I am hooked. For months, I’ve been sending cards with the recognizable Ethiopian imagery in bright colors for any possible occasion. Maro Haile’s paintings have been slowly flowing into her design work. “I am creating new and unique designs that touch on our rich Ethiopian design heritage but also with a universal appeal,” she says. “This process has been exciting, challenging, nerve-wracking and quite rewarding.” I am in love with Deseta, I can’t help it. Get hooked here: www.deseta.net.

Kenna- Gap #MakeLove


Ethiopian-American Musician Kenna & actress Beau Garrett Gap AD.

It feels great to see Kenna’s handsome face plastered all over New York City next to model and actress Beau Garrett. Both of them have been involved in making a difference in response to the global water crisis. Advertisement at its best.

Munit+Jörg – When Ethiopia meets Germany


Munit and Jorg performing live at Silvana in Harlem, NYC on July 12, 2013 (Photographs: Tadias)

Munit simply enjoys herself on stage and immediately pulls the audience into her music with her playfulness, but also her exceptional range. With the rather laid back and introverted Jörg, they make the best duo on stage singing in Amharic and English. Their long awaited album has something for everybody: http://munitandjorg.bandcamp.com.

Yityish Aynaw – Miss Israel in 2013 is Ethiopian!

It was so beautiful to see Yityish win Miss Israel 2013. To be recognized, to be seen and celebrated as a black woman in today’s world is a big deal. Hailing from Netanya, Yityish, or Titi as she is popularly known, is using her new fame to bring attention and resources to the children in her hometown, and building an arts community center that will help the children “learn what they shown interest in, whether it’s dance or music.”

Anthm – Handful of Goodness

Anthm cover 1
Anteneh Addisu aka ANTHM. (Photo: Supermegatrend)

For Anthm (aka Anteneh Addisu) 2013 was really a busy year, dropping two albums. Produced by Blu, A Handful Of Dust reminds me of what Hip-Hop used to be and is an instant classic. His second album The Fire Next Time, whose name derives from a James Baldwin book title, experiments with different styles. It shows you can’t put him in a box, and for that I salute him! Listen to his music here: https://soundcloud.com/amgesquires.

Related:
The Year in Pictures
Top Ten Stories of 2013

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Music by Mizan Kidanu

Mizan Kidanu working on her music. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Heran Abate

Updated: Friday, November 8th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – The most striking thing about Mizan Kidanu, as I discovered soon after we sat down for this conversation, is her frankness about her creative journey in a fickle industry. Songwriter and artist, Mizan makes the type of music that is self-declaratory with an imposingly rich voice, scant in glitz yet decadent in the exploration of human emotion. I was compelled to discuss her music with her not only because I relate to it, but also to investigate what allowed her to make the leap of faith to pursue music as a career. I would soon learn that my approach needed some fine-tuning: a leap of faith implies a lone and momentary act of bravery, white heat of passion, starry-eyed certainty looking into the future.

Yet, Mizan’s account of moving to New York City two years ago to court her craft implies that ‘leap of faith’ does not have the consummate relief of being momentary, it is more of a sweeping undertaking to nurture embryonic wings into a tenacious wingspan. Her choice of relocation after graduating from college in Delaware was decisive in that it exposed her to whole ecosystems of musicians and showed her, from the benefit of other artists’ experiences, that talent is not the prerequisite of success. As in, establishing music as a career is not just about creating the music, it requires the business savvy to run a one-woman show however long it takes to delegate management and operations.

Interestingly, the unflinching consent to her trade does not leave evidence of strain or exhaustion on her music. In fact, it sounds as effortless as if she sat down at her piano and recorded in one go. Rather than frustrate her expression, the anxious and urgent call manifests itself as an element turned into art, a feeling that she simulates beautifully through jarring acoustics and abstract lyrics. For one, the title of her upcoming EP, Dark Blue, is a telling description of her music personified in a color. Ethereal and nuanced, dark if for no other reason than it is a deep-sea exploration of a shared human experience of ebbing and flowing emotions that are hidden under the surface of every day life.

She is versatile, spanning from free-styled covers of songs like “Crazy” by Cee-Lo Green, which to date has garnered upwards of 34,000 hits on YouTube, and original, more melancholy ones like “No Fool,” the first track on her new album. A number of record companies have been quick to take notice of the essential common denominator of her music, her singular voice adorned only by the elegance of visual and aural simplicity. So too have artist collectives and musical news outlets that have called her in for interviews. Back in April 2013 she won first place at Amateur Night at the Apollo for a sultry and resplendent cover of “Ain’t No Sunshine”.

Offstage, her community of friends who are filmmakers, illustrators and digital engineers enable the signature simplicity of her videos and crisp quality of her music’s sound engineering. This availability of in-kind resources, of valuable equipment and skill from her friends’ respective artistic endeavors, seams together an audiovisual experience that she invites her listeners into. The multiplicity of venues where she can perform in real-time and virtual social media outlets enable a feedback loop for her to grow in dialogue with her audience. In a word, New York City and the Internet provide a means to participate in a diversified economy built around a circulating production and consumption of music.

This is notable not least because the availability and establishment of such opportunities is just budding in the homeland. For the time being, Mizan’s career choice is to remain in the United States to develop her skills and market. Both the decision and its byproduct have received some criticism and concern at home. Popular wisdom has it that unless you study law, medicine or engineering, you are not quite fulfilling your duty to the development of your country. There is, of course, a certain irony in being a people whose celebratory heritage is rich with music and poetry where there is a taken-for-granted understanding that the culture will produce itself.

Perhaps the scorn is targeted more at the allocation of financial resources to the production of culture, a ‘secondary’ priority where primary ones like public health and education abound. While Mizan acknowledges the gravity of tangible contributions to development, she asserts that it is not mutually exclusive to the progress of culture. As she puts it, “just because it doesn’t solve world hunger, it doesn’t mean that it’s not a valuable pursuit”. One could add that, from an archival standpoint, a past moment in time is untouchable through the head-on lens of history. Conversely, art, music in this context, entices us to perceive time-specific essence indirectly by way of all our senses. What better way to mark moments in the course of societal progress?

Responsibilities to the homeland considered, Mizan points out that realizing a professional vision in the U.S. entertainment industry has its own challenges, namely resisting the ready-made molds that promise an incomplete success. She credits her Ethiopian upbringing for exercising the foresight to opt out of the waylaying frivolity in her trade. Ultimately, she admits that no obstacle course is more potent than self between her and her quest to “sing about the human condition, to reach people in their solitude.”

It is this very journey of exploring and mastering self that becomes the stuff of her music. No song is more indicative than “Anxious”. Through this latest single, she takes a taxing emotion, anxiety, and wraps it around bars and a vision to make something you can dance to. It marks the indecisive beat between a strident step in one direction and another. It shows vision frustrated by the subtle differences between the grays, the black and white; the whole picture is not revealed to you at once, it comes in flashes, blurs of a monochromatic optical illusion. Call it the practice of deliberate and resolute expression where uncertainty is the overwhelming principle. It is a slice of subjective reality that may just reflect your own.

Watch: Mizan – Anxious

Photographs: Mizan Kidanu at work and play. (Photos courtesy of the artist)


About the Author:
Heran Abate is a creative non-fiction writer. Born and raised in Ethiopia, she recently graduated from Wesleyan University where she studied Sociology and Hispanic Cultures and Literatures. She chronicles her own generation, the Millennials, for Tadias Magazine.

Related:
Yohannes Aramde’s Bona Fide Step by Heran Abate

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8 Ethiopian Artists Bringing East Africa to the Future (MTV)

The following list isn’t a top ten of the most famous groups. It’s meant to be more of a smorgasbord where you can taste the different kinds of artists making music in Ethiopia and its diaspora today. (MTV)

MTV

By Marlon Bishop

Electrified lyres. Auto-tuned vocal acrobatics. Undulating digital synths. Extremely funky dance moves, all happening above the shoulders. Those are just a few of the awesome things to expect when you go to see an Ethiopian pop music concert in 2013.

African pop music is steadily gaining exposure abroad as Nigerian afrobeats take over Europe, azonto goes viral and South African rappers get big record deals. Yet up in the Northeast corner of Africa, nothing of the sort is happening. The modern music of Ethiopia is very little known outside the country and its diaspora. That’s a shame, because Ethiopian music is amazing and sounds like nothing else on the continent — or in the rest of the world, for that matter.

If Ethiopia sounds different from the rest of Africa, that’s because the country is pretty different. It was the center of some of Africa’s most powerful historical empires, home to one of the world’s oldest Christian communities, and the only African territory (other than Liberia) to stay independent through the colonial era. Ethiopian languages are written in their own cool-looking alphabet. Culturally, it’s long been influenced by the Middle East, North Africa and the Indian Ocean as well as the rest of Africa. Chances are you’ve tried that spongy injera bread once or twice.

Most people familiar with Ethiopian music know it for the “ethio-jazz” sound which thrived in 1970s Addis Ababa, during the final years of Emperor Haile Selassie’s reign. Musicians like Mulatu Astatke took American jazz and soul and refashioned it with the eerie, ancient-sounding pentatonic scales of Ethiopian traditional music, with swinging results.The sound has made popular abroad by the 28-disc Ethiopiques series put out by the French Buda Musique label over the last decade. Ethiopiques piqued the interest of beatniks the world over and has inspired a number of revivalist groups, like Daptone Records‘ Budos Band.

While bands in New York and Tokyo relive the 1970s, Ethiopia has moved on to make pop music for the present day. Those same ancient scales and melismatic vocals are there, but instead of jazz, the tracks are influenced by tinges of synthy funk, reggae and R&B. It’s a sound that was developed to a large degree by a guy named Abegaz Shiota, a Japanese-Ethiopian producer who has cut records for virtually every major Ethiopian pop singer over the past few decades. For much of that time, Shiota worked out of the Ethiopian community in Washington DC, where the music scene largely relocated during the military dictatorship years of the 70s and 80s.

“There’s a really strong focus on vocals and lyricism,” says Danny Mekonnen, leader of the Boston based “ethio-groove” group Debo Band. Mekonnen says he’s not crazy about the reliance on digital synth sounds in the musical arrangements, but he thinks there’s still a lot to love about Ethiopian pop. “A lot of artists are taking pop music forward by pulling elements from the past, not in a nostalgic way, but honoring the past to create something new.”

Unlike many other regions of Africa, where hip-hop and other foreign styles are coming to dominate the soundscape, Ethiopia sticks close to its roots in sound and style. A lot of younger artists are even including the traditional masengo fiddle and krar lyre on the tracks, playing along with the high-flying synthesizers. And while it’s true that the production-quality can be a bit chintzy, the success of South African Shangaan electro music and digital-traditional artists like Omar Souleyman has proven that younger “world music” audiences can get into the lo-fi aesthetics of the developing world. If you find yourself able to get down, Ethiopian pop music is hypnotizing and hot all at once.

Read more at MTV IGGY.
—-
Related:
New Album Release: Wayna & Haile Roots to Perform at SOB’s in New York

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And the Beat Making Lab goes on, to Ethiopia

Beat Making Lab students in class working on a beat. (Credit: Photo: IntraHealth)

Public Radio International

By Pierce Freelon

Each morning in Addis Ababa, I piled into the historic home of the late Muluemebet Emiru — Africa’s first woman pilot — with 16 musicians and poets. The house was temporarily transformed into a community space for songwriting and music production called a Beat Making Lab.

In Addis Ababa, we collaborated with a global health organization called Intrahealth, asking students to reflect on health issues in their communities as they composed beats and poems. Among our most talented students was a young woman named Gelila, whose poem about access to health care facilities became the basis for a catchy anthem collectively produced by several of our Ethiopian students.

Read more at PRI.

Video: Gelila: Ambitious Ethiopian Beat Maker (Part 1/2) | Beat Making Lab |


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Ethereal Kremt: Exhibition at LeLa Gallery Remembers Ermias Mazengia

Artist Ermias Mazengia (1977 - 2013). Photo credit: LeLa Gallery.

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Addis Ababa (TADIAS) — LeLa Gallery in Addis Ababa is hosting a group exhibition entitled Ethereal Kremt honoring the late artist Ermias Mazengia (1977-2013). The gallery’s first show of the new Ethiopian Year opens on Saturday, October 5th, and features recent works “all produced during the rainy season” by Michael Tsegaye, Dawit Abebe, Behailu Bezabih, Tesfaye Bekele, Tamrat Gezahegn, Eyob Kitaba & Ermias Mazengia.

“The exhibition sails under the banner of the ‘seasonal’. As if it was possible that a norm-transcending atmospheric condition –whether meteorological, phenomenological, social or historical could be intrinsic to works of art” LeLa Gallery said in its event announcement. “As if the ornamental and the abstract, the motion and the desire, could inaugurate a visual space transforming the totalitarianism of heavy rain, dirt, mud and thunderstorm into a gesture of liberation. As if the delinquency of art could, through spacial displacement, inspire an alternative form of ethereal beauty.”

The show is dedicated to Ermias Mazengia, who’se sudden, tragic death leaves a void in the art community.

If You Go:
LeLa Gallery Presents “Ethereal Kremt”
Opening Reception Saturday, October 5th at 3pm
Tel: + 251 11 6535506
www.lelagallery.com

Direction: From ring road direction Jimma, take the first right after the Armed Forces Hospital (old Airport) on China Embassy/ Ghana Embassy/ Swedish Clinic road – go down, pass Ghana Embassy approx. 200 mtrs make a right and follow the LeLa sign.

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Contemporary Art in Ethiopia: Ephrem Solomon Reflects on His Work

Pianting by Ephrem Solomon: Exist Yellow Chair, 2013, wood cut and mixed media, measuring 73x73cm.

The Guardian

By Karen Obling

Ephrem Solomon’s work differs from the prevailing artistic style in Ethiopia in many ways. Although his art is also two-dimensional and on canvas, a strong graphic emphasis makes it stand out from the ever-dominant paintings, be they figurative or abstract.

Solomon was born in Addis Ababa in 1983, and developed an interest in art early. After high school he studied fine art and graphic design, which shows in his portfolio. His works is often very descriptive and literal, focusing on the world around him; the city of Addis, its people, places, spaces and nature. Objects such as the signature chair and slippers are incorporated as a reflection on broader political and social themes.

“My works portrays the distance between what the governed people need and want and what the response is from the governors. I have tried to picture, as precisely as possible, the actual and innocent feeling of the governed,” Solomon says.

Read more at The Guardian.

Related:
Yohannes Aramde’s Bona Fide Step
Symposium In D.C. to Launch the Skunder Boghossian Fellowship Award
Photographer Michael Tsegaye On His Upcoming Exhibition in Oslo

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Symposium In D.C. to Launch the Skunder Boghossian Fellowship Award

Skunder Boghossian is one of the best-known African modern artists in the West. (Photo by Jarvis Grant)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Monday, September 16th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – A few years ago the Fine Arts School at Addis Ababa University, which consists of the School of Music, the School of Theater Arts and the School of Fine Arts & Design, was renamed the Skunder Boghossian College of Performing and Visual Arts in honor of the institution’s most influential former professor of contemporary art and one of Ethiopia’s renown artists.

Since 2003 photographer Gediyon Kifle has been documenting Skunder’s paintings held in private collections around the world. Gediyon, who is scheduled to speak at a symposium in Washington, D.C. on September 22nd, 2013 marking the launch of the Skunder Boghossian Fellowship Award, said that he is also working on a documentary film and photo book highlighting the life and work of the legendary artist.

“I am probably the only person that has footage of a sit-down interview with Skunder done near the end his life,” Gediyon said. “The movie will focus on his years in Ethiopia, France and America.” He added: “I am lucky that I am collaborating with poet and screenwriter Solomon Deressa. There is no one in the world who knows Skunder as well as Solomon did from childhood onward.”

Skunder, who lived most of his life in the United States, briefly taught at Addis Ababa University in the late sixties (1966 – 1969) after returning home from an 11-year stay in Europe. Sponsored by the Ethiopian government, Skunder had attended Saint Martin’s School of Art in the U.K. in 1955 at the age of 18. He also studied at Slade School of Fine Art while in London. Two years later he moved to France continuing his studies for nine more years at Academie de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris.

He arrived in the U.S. in 1970 and accepted a teaching position at Howard University in 1972 that lasted until 2001, two years before he passed away at age 65.

Skunder became the first contemporary African artist to have his work acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1966 when MOMA purchased his 1964 painting entitled Juju’s Wedding. His last commissioned work was in 2001, a team project in collaboration with U.S.-based Ethiopian painter and art professor, Kebedech Tekleab, on the Nexus for the Wall of Representation at the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

According to the event announcement, the D.C. tribute attendees at the upcoming symposium will have the opportunity “to listen to speakers from the United States and abroad and ask questions following each panel, as well as view video clips of Skunder’s works, listen to jazz compositions that inspired him, and have informal conversations with the guest scholars and artists during the reception.”

Skunder’s work has been represented by the Contemporary African Art Gallery in Manhattan, New York since the late 1990s. “I have a small room in the gallery that is completely dedicated to Skunder’s painting where I keep a collection,” said gallery owner Bill Karg, in a recent phone conversation. “He has done a total of three solo exhibition here,” Bill recalled. “But his first show at the gallery was in 1997.” Since then, Bill has kept the relationship through Skunder’s daughter Aida Boghossian, and opens his collection for customers periodically and by appointment.

Regarding Skunder’s collaborative art work featured at the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington D.C., the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art notes “this work highlights the intergenerational links among the diaspora community. The aluminum relief sculpture incorporates decorative motifs, patterns and symbols adapted from diverse Ethiopian religious traditions including Christianity, Judaism, Islam and other indigenous spiritual practices. The symbolic scrolls suggest major forms associated with the historic kingdoms of Axum, Gondar and Lalibela. Other forms represent musical instruments, utilitarian tools, and regional flora and fauna. Together, these designs compose a sense of Ethiopian identity and are intended as a balanced juxtaposition of traditional and contemporary Ethiopian aesthetics.”

If You Go:
SKUNDER TRIBUTE — Celebration of Art & Culture
September 22, 2013
Symposium: 12-7pm | Reception: 7-10pm
Corcoran Gallery of Art
500 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
Entrance: $35 & $25
Tickets must be purchased in advance
skundertribute.eventbrite.com

Video: South African musician Hugh Masekela on Skunder Boghossian

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Photographer Michael Tsegaye On His Upcoming Exhibition in Oslo

Ethiopia seen outside the box: Ankober 2007. (Photograph: Michael Tsegaye)

The Guardian Africa Network

By Caitlin Chandler

It’s hard to catch photographer Michael Tsegaye; photography jobs frequently take him to remote parts of Ethiopia, while his personal work graces urban art meccas such as Paris, New York and Bamako. He’s soon Scandinavia-bound; Oslo will host his next exhibition later in September.

Luckily Tsegaye recently had time to meet for a macchiato at the Lime Tree café in the Bole neighborhood of Addis Ababa. He grew up in Bole, before the area became home to the never-ending construction of shiny new office buildings and restaurants. Originally a painter, Tsegaye turned out to be allergic to oil paint, and switched to photography in 2003. Photography brought him out of the studio and into constant negotiation with places and people; he says he’s never looked back.

Tsegaye’s photographic series range from tackling social issues such as climate change to pondering space and time across Ethiopia. He has worked in a variety of mediums and formats, and is increasingly in demand from commercial and non-profit clients. Despite exhibiting around the world, Tsegaye regularly debuts work in his hometown. We chatted over coffee about how the media portrays African artists, which subjects catch his attention, and what reaction to his photos has surprised him the most.

Read more at The Guardian.



Related:
Tadias Q & A With Photographer Michael Tsegaye: Addis Ababa’s Red Light District

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Taitu Cultural Center Opens Amharic Library

Alemtsehay Wedajo at the inauguration of Taitu Cultural Center's Library in D.C. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Dagnachew Teklu

Updated: Sunday, September 1st, 2013

Washington D.C. (TADIAS) – Taitu Cultural Center, an independent artists organization based in Washington, D.C, has opened a library and research center dedicated exclusively to Amharic publications — the first of its kind in the U.S. The opening collection features more than 900 Ethiopian books and rare periodicals, including newspapers, biographies, children’s books, fiction, political journals, comedy and poetry publications.

In an interview with Tadias Magazine the center’s founder, Alemtsehay Wedajo, said the library is supported by members as well as private donations and it aims to provide a space for research and study of Ethiopian culture and history.

“Visitors to the library can borrow books and take scanned copies of some 80-year old newspapers from Ethiopia,” Alemtsehay said. “We used to blame the public for lack of reading culture, but we didn’t create such a facility in the past.”

Theater productions and other stage activities organized by the Taitu Cultural Center in the last decade has become a magnet for established and aspiring artists and authors residing in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, which is home to one of the largest population of Ethiopians in the United States. Regulars at the cultural center include students, artists, writers, and poets.

“It was one of my dreams to establish such a center here in America” Alemtsehay told Tadias. “I hope it will serve to narrow the gap among the various Ethiopian communities around the country.”

Hiywot Kifle, who is a member of Taitu Cultural Center, said he often borrows books to support the center.

“I can’t tell you how helpful this center has been,” Hiywot said. “There are many youngsters who spend much of their time on the Internet because they don’t have such a center around.” he added: “There are plenty of parents who want such service for their U.S.-born children if its available for them.”

The library, which is located at 4408 Georgia avenue, is open seven days a week. Alemtsehay said the center is able to accommodate up to 50 people at a time. She said Taitu is currently negotiating with Ethiopian airlines to bring 500 additional books from Ethiopia.



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Tadias Interview: Samuel Wolde-Yohannes on his Book ‘Ethiopia: Culture of Progress
Tadias Interview: Alemtsehay Wedajo, Founder of Tayitu Cultural Center

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Ethiopian Taxi Driver, Keyboardists Reinvents Music Career (Video)

(Photo courtesy Voice of America)

VOA News

BY Deborah Block

WASHINGTON — One of the most popular keyboardists in Ethiopia is now working as a taxi driver in Washington, D.C. In the 1970s, Hailu Mergia performed with a famous band in Ethiopia. In 1981, he toured the United States with that band and then settled in Washington. But he kept his name and music alive in Ethiopian communities worldwide by producing his own recordings. Now one of those cassettes, from nearly 30 years ago, has been reissued after it was discovered in a music store in Ethiopia.

Mergia plays music from his 1985 reissued cassette, titled Mergia and his Classical Instrument, as he waits for customers at Dulles International Airport, located outside Washington. He said his Ethiopian customers get excited when they realize who he is.

“When I tell them my name, then they recognize my name, and then they say ‘Are you Hailu Mergia, then they tell me how they appreciate my music,” he said, beaming with pride. “Most of them ask me ‘Why do you drive a taxi,’ so I tell them the same answer, ‘Look, I just have to make money.’”

Mergia is mostly self-taught. In his younger days, he played in restaurants and bars in Ethiopia and found fame in the 1970s playing with the jazz and soul Walias Band.

“We were playing very modern music, so we were very popular at that time,” he explained.

For about 20 years in Washington, Mergia made money playing with another band and managing a nightclub. When those jobs ended, he became a taxi driver. But he never let go of his music and has produced a dozen cassettes and a CD over his professional career.

“I just like to play original music. I just play typical Ethiopian music,” he said.

Typical perhaps, but also unique. Mergia added new sounds to his 1985 cassette like the Moog synthesizer and drum machine which he mixes with traditional acoustic Ethiopian music. He also added the accordion which had not been heard in Ethiopian music for years.

Mergia’s style appealed to Brian Shimkovitz, founder of a small record label called Awesome Tapes from Africa. While visiting a music store in Ethiopia, he thought this particular cassette stood out and wanted to reissue it.

Mergia was surprised when he got the call.

“My question was, ‘How did you get it? Where did you get it?’ I was excited,” he admitted.

Shimkovitz thought Mergia’s sound would have wide appeal.

“There’s also tons of Ethiopians all over the world who would remember this music and would love to hear it again,” he remarked. “I think the music touches on jazz and rock and experimental music but, of course, also classic Ethiopian music.”

Mergia thinks the younger generation would also enjoy it.

“I chose the melody that can fit for accordion. They like it because they don’t have that kind of sound,” he explained.

Today, Mergia is likely to collect even more fans since Shimkovitz has released his music in different formats that make it available to access on the Internet.

“It’s being marketed in every continent and in record stores of all different kinds,” he said.

At age 67, Mergia is hoping to reinvent his career. He is traveling to Europe in November where he will tour with other musicians to showcase his distinctive style.

Watch: Ethiopian Taxi Driver, Keyboardist Reinvents Music Career


Read more Arts and Entertainment news at VOA.

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Emahoy Tsegue-Mariam Guebru: Jersualem’s Best Kept Musical Secret

Emahoy Tsegué-Mariam Guebrù. (Photograph: Gali Tibbon)

The Guardian

By Harriet Sherwood

Jerusalem - From a small, spartan room in the courtyard of the Ethiopian church off a narrow street in Jerusalem, a 90-year-old musical genius is emerging into the spotlight.

For almost three decades, Emahoy Tsegué-Mariam Guebrù has been closeted at the church, devoting herself to her life’s twin themes – faith and music. The Ethiopian nun, whose piano compositions have enthralled those who have stumbled across a handful of recordings in existence, has lived a simple life, rarely venturing beyond the monastery’s gates.

But this month the nonagenarian’s scribbled musical scores have been published as a book, ensuring the long-term survival of her music. And on Tuesday, the composer will hear her work played in concert for the first time, at three performances in Jerusalem. Guebrù may even play a little.

Her music has been acclaimed by critics and devotees. Maya Dunietz, a young Israeli musician who worked with Guebrù on the publication of her scores, says in her introduction to the book that the composer has “developed her own musical language”.

“It is classical music, with a very special sense of time, space, scenery,” Dunietz told the Guardian. “It’s not grand; it’s intimate, natural, honest and very feminine. She has a magical touch on the piano. It’s delicate but deep. And all her compositions tell stories of time and place.”

Read more at The Guardian.



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Wosene Kosrof’s Exhibition ‘Wordplay’ at Gallery of African Art in London

Berkeley, California-based painter and mixed-media artist Wosene Kosrof is best known for his work that incorporate Amharic alphabetic characters into his prolific compositions. (Photo credit: Alan Bamberger)

BBC Africa

Ethiopian artist Wosene Worke Kosrof explores the aesthetic potential of symbols from the Amharic script.

He began distorting the symbols of his language 35 years ago and it is now an integral part of his work.

His exhibition Wordplay is being shown at London’s newly opened Gallery of African Art.

He told BBC Africa’s Jenny Horrocks how he came to work in this way.

Watch the video at BBC News.

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Munit & Jörg: Soulful Sounds from Ethiopia

The following is VOA News video interview with Munit and Jorg, a duet from Ethioia, who are currently on their first U.S. musical tour direct from Addis Ababa. (Courtesy photo)

VOA News

By Heather Maxwell

A colleague told me about a duo act from Ethiopia coming through town by the name Munit & Jörg. I gave their music a listen on bandcamp and, though different than the more traditional or fusion sound I generally go for, there was something new and fresh in it I liked. A few days later Munit & Jörg came into Studio 4 here in Washington.

They were on tour in the Eastern US from Ethiopia to promote the release of their new CD, called 2. The stop in Washington was to perform at one my favorite D.C. venues, a chic little world music spot with a contemporary psychedelic decor called Tropicalia.

They coined the name Ethio-Acoustic Soul to describe their musical style. They play original compositions as well as arrangements of classic works such as “Yekermo Sew” by Ethio-Jazz master Mulatu Astatke and Ethiopian folk music.

Check out our interview and their live performance of three tracks off 2: “Trans-Africa Highway” (written by Munit & Jorg), “Yekermo Sew” (music by Mulatu Astatke), and “Hagare” (written by Munit & Jorg).

Photos: Munit and Jorg at Silvana in Harlem, NYC, Friday, July 12, 2013 (Tadias Magazine)


Related:
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Summer of Ethiopian Music Continues: Krar Collective in NYC, Young Ethio Jazz in D.C. (TADIAS)

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Hailu Mergia: A Beloved Ethiopian Musician of a Generation Ago

Ethiopian-born musician Hailu Mergia plays the piano at his home in Fort Washington. A generation ago he was a major star in the Ethiopian music scene. (Nikki Kahn/ The Washington Post)

The Washington Post

By Chris Richards

He’s carried his music around the planet, but if you want to hear him play it, you have to go to his house.

In his living room, there’s an upright piano where he coaches his fingertips through jazz standards for 30 minutes each day.­

In his dining room, there are framed photographs where he’s sporting bell-bottoms and broad smiles alongside his seven bandmates in Ethiopia’s beloved Walias Band.

And in his garage, there’s a graphite gray Washington Flyer taxi cab where he spends his workweek dashing to and from Dulles International Airport — if his passengers happen to be from Ethiopia­­, the ID hanging from the cab’s sun visor might catch their eye.

“Hailu Mergia the musician?” they ask, pivoting from delight to disbelief.

“Some of them say, ‘I grew up listening to your music! . . . How come you drive taxi?’ ” Mergia says on a recent Saturday afternoon. “I tell them, ‘This is what I do. I am perfectly happy.’”

Read more at The Washington Post.

Listen to Hailu Mergia and The Walias Band playing – Tche Belew



Related:
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Summer of Ethiopian Music: Jano to Fendika, Teddy Afro to Mahmoud Ahmed (TADIAS)

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Photos From Sheba Film Festival & Art Show

At the closing event of the 2013 Sheba Film Festival & Art Show at the Harlem State Building in New York (Photo by Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – The 10th anniversary celebration of the Sheba Film Festival in New York concluded on Saturday, June 22nd with a reception and an art exhibition held at The Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. State Building in Harlem. The event entitled Children of Sheba Art Show featured works by local Ethiopian artists including paintings by Miku Girma, Ezra Wube, Maro Haile, Zebeeb Awalom, t-shirt designs by Beniam G. Asfaw, jewelry by Lydia Gobena (owner of Birabiro) and photographs by Tigist Selam.

Here are photos from the closing exhibition held on Saturday, June 22nd.



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Tadias Interview: Aida Muluneh on Her Ethiopia Exhibition ‘So Long a Letter’

Mixed media image created using photograph, pen drawing and paint. (Photo courtesy Aida Muluneh)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Thursday, June 6, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – Last month, the award-winning Ethiopian photographer Aida Muluneh held a successful solo exhibition at TO.MO.CA gallery in Addis Ababa entitled So Long a Letter, which featured her photographs mixed with pen drawings on leather and mounted on wooden board frames. In a recent interview with Tadias Aida said the show was inspired by one of her favorite books “So Long A Letter” — a semi-autobiographical novel originally written in French by the Senegalese author Mariama Bâ.

“In a sense it was my ‘So Long Letter’ to all the women in the country who often go unrecognized or are under-appreciated in our society,” Aida said. “I have always loved the book and the fact that it was written in a letter format.”

Aida said the book left a lasting impression on her because the author was exploring issues that were close to home: “Women in Africa.” She added: “With this in mind, I wanted to do an exhibition featuring all the various women that I had encountered in the course of the almost six years that I have lived here in Addis Ababa.”

Aida, who returned to Ethiopia in 2007, was born in 1974, but left the country when she was five years old and spent an itinerant childhood between Yemen and England. After several years in a boarding school in Cyprus, she finally settled in Canada in 1985.

In 2000, Aida graduated with a degree in Film from Howard University in Washington, D.C. She later worked as a photojournalist for the Washington Post exhibiting her work in-between throughout the United States. Her images are part of the permanent collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, the Museum of Biblical Art, as well as various private galleries and collections in New York and across the country.

Today, Aida said, she finds herself in the middle of a thriving art movement in Ethiopia. “I have to say that the art scene here in Addis has flourished more than one can imagine and I would have to give recognition to the many artists and groups who are fighting the good fight to bring art into the forefront of society,” she noted. “The younger artists are exhibiting in various spaces and I have to say that almost every week there is an opening, this to me is a promising factor for the future of contemporary art in Ethiopia.”

Through her solo exhibitions as well as her work as Founder and Director of the first annual international photography festival, Addis Foto Fest, in Ethiopia, Aida is an active participant and organizer in the burgeoning local arts scene that has begun to attract increased worldwide attention. She emphasized that she continues to curate and develop cultural projects with domestic and global institutions through her company DESTA (Developing and Educating Society Through Art), a creative consulting venture based in Addis Ababa.

“We have to move from the shadows of our artists of the past and carve out our own visual language, which is happening even amidst the criticism and lack of support from older generation artists,” she argued. “With all of that said, we are all in our own way walking down the long path of doing something that we believe in and feel passionate about.”

Regarding the process of putting together her most recent exhibition Aida said it was a two-part project. “The classical black and white images that most often people recognize from my work was one part,” she explained. “Which came about by editing through my archives of images that I have shot in the past six years.” She added: “The other part is new work that I created, which is more of a personal design on combining image, pen drawing and paint. On the selection, the material used also has leather and in a sense for me its bringing together digital and analog forms of expression into one frame.”

You can learn more about the show and Addis Foto Fest on Facebook.

Related:
Video: Tadias interview with Aida Muluneh taped in New York in 2010 (Tadias Magazine)


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Sneak Peek Preview: Watch New Ethiopian Movie ‘Difret’

'Difret' is written and directed by Zeresenay Berhane Mehari, pictured above with the lead actress Tizita Hagere, center right, and her friends. (Photo courtesy Haile Addis Pictures)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, May 30th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – You may remember our highlight last year of a group of independent Ethiopian filmmakers in the U.S. who successfully raised seed money via Kickstarter, an online fundraising platform, to finance the production of a feature length movie called Difret. Originally titled Oblivion, the film chronicles the true story of a teenager from a small, rural village in the Arsi region whose widely publicized arrest for murder in the late 1990s unleashed a historic court battle that resulted in the girl’s acquittal on the grounds of self-defense, legally ending the traditional practice of child marriage by abduction in Ethiopia.

This week the producers released a short clip of their nearly complete project, revealing for the first time that the main character, 14-year-old Aberash Bekele, is powerfully portrayed by a new teen actress named Tizita Hagere, while Aberash’s feisty lawyer Meaza Ashenafi is played by one of Ethiopia’s leading actresses, Meron Getinet.

“We did two rounds of casting and looked at many professionals and youngsters from various local schools,” Leelai Demoz, one of the co-producers, told Tadias. Regarding the audition process, Leelai said, they screened over 400 people who tried out for the film’s various roles. As to the newcomer Tizita, she was spotted by the director Zeresenay Berhane Mehari. “It was one of those moments where as soon as he saw her performance at one of the auditions he noticed that she embodied the character he had envisioned,” he said.

The epic story opens with Aberash’s ordeal one fateful afternoon in 1997 when she was abducted while walking home from school. She was singled out from her friends by a group of horsemen, led by a 29-year-old farmer, who had planned to kidnap and marry her. That was the person she was accused of killing. “He hit me about the face,” Aberash told the authorities at the time. “I nearly lost consciousness. He was such a huge man, I couldn’t push him away. Then he forced my legs apart. He beat me senseless and took my virginity.” Aberash eventually fatally shot the man. She said that she discovered the gun in a room where she was being held, picked it up, and ran away. Following a chase she turned the weapon on her attacker; She was arrested and charged with murder.

“Making this film has really been a humbling experience because of the support of the community,” Leelai noted: “So many people have come through in so many ways and risen to the challenge.”

“Difret was the Amharic title and as we thought about it, it felt right to keep it for the English version as well,” Leelai said mentioning the recent change of the film’s English heading.

The video was released on kickstarter.com, where the team has launched a second round of campaign for funds to help them finish the final stages of editing work in preparation for the movie’s submission to international competitions later this year.

“In the next two months, we have to start the post production sound mix,” Leelai emphasized. “This process is where every track of audio is mixed and perfected.” He added: “It is labor-intensive and expensive process. In some cases, we have to re-record some audio. We also need to do color correction. This is what gives the film a uniform look. Any differences in exposure or color temperature are fixed. At the end, we will have a film that looks and sounds amazing. This part is where you don’t want to cut corners.”

Below is the two-minute video with an introduction from the director Zeresenay Berhane Mehari.

Watch:


You can Learn more and contribute to the kickstarter campaign for Difret at www.kickstarter.com.

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Yadesa Bojia Reflects on African Union Flag on 50th Anniversary

Ethiopian-born artist Yadesa Bojia is the designer of the current flag of the African Union that was adopted in 2010. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Monday, May 20th, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – On the evening of September 28th, 2009, Yadesa Bojia, an Ethiopian American artist based in Seattle, Washington, was babysitting his children at home while watching CNN when he recognized an image on the TV screen of one of his artworks. “That’s my design!” he exclaimed. He was looking at the new African Union flag created using a sketch that he had submitted for competition two years earlier. “By then I had almost forgotten about it because at that point I had not yet heard back from AU,” Yadesa (a.k.a. Yaddi) recalled in a recent interview with Tadias.

Yaddi spotted the flag on Lary King Live whose guest was Muammar Gaddafi, the Chairman of the African Union as well as the head of the African Union Commission (AUC) at the time. The Commission was tasked to come up with an updated insignia for the continental body, and the interview conducted at the Libyan Mission in New York showed Gaddafi flanked by the new banner. “I could not believe my eyes,” Yaddi said.

Immediately, Yaddi contacted the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa to enquire about the new flag. “What flag?” the perplexed women on the other end of the receiver replied. “Sir, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“To top it off the next morning there was Gaddafi again on CNN wearing my design all over his clothing,” Yaddi remembered laughing. “I was losing my mind.”

Yaddi would eventually learn that his work was selected earlier that year by the Commission out of approximately 127 entries submitted in the span of two years from artists residing in several African countries and including two contestants from the Diaspora.

Three months after he first saw the flag on CNN, Yaddi finally received a formal letter from the African Union announcing the adoption of his design as the continent’s new emblem. The letter included an invitation along with a paid travel package for him and his family to attend the flag’s inauguration ceremony during the 14th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State held in Addis Ababa on January 31st, 2010.

The design depicts a green Africa, the color portray the hopes and aspirations of the continent, resting on rays of a white sun that symbolizes the people’s desire for friendship and co-existence with all countries around the planet. The map is circled by a ring of golden stars each representing member states, wealth and a bright future.

“I was told by an official from the Ethiopian ministry of Foreign Affairs that when Meles found out the winner was an Ethiopian, he told them to go find the guy,” he said. “Once I got to Addis, on the second day of events, I was approached by the protocol chief who informed me that the Prime Minister wanted to see me. So my wife and I had the chance to meet with the PM privately who told me that he was proud of my work.” He added: “In addition, I also met with President Zuma of South Africa, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and other leaders who were very complimentary of the flag. Not to mention the five hours I spent with President Girma Wolde-Giorgis at the national palace.”


(Courtesy photos)

Although he received wide publicity in Ethiopia, Yaddi pointed out that his favorite moments were in the subsequent days spent in Addis, where people who recognized him would come up to him to give him a hug and a kiss. “A street vendor gave me a coin from the Menelik era that he was selling,” said Yaddi fighting back tears. “He sternly protested my offer to pay. The man told me that he just wanted to show his appreciation to me and he did not want any money for it.”

Yaddi says he continues to be proud of his contribution to AU and Ethiopia’s role over the past 50 years under starkly different successive regimes in keeping the organization alive. He is reminded of a forceful defense of this legacy by the late PM Meles Zenawi during his tenure as Prime Minister when there was a concerted effort to move the head office outside of Ethiopia.

“It was people like Nyerere, Nkrumah, who decided that Addis Ababa should be the headquarters of the OAU; Addis Ababa ruled at that stage by Emperor Haile Selassie,” Meles had argued. “Who trained Mandela? Who supported Mugabe in his fight against Rhodesia?” Meles asked. “There is one fact that nobody can deny — that irrespective of who is ruling Ethiopia, Ethiopia has always been committed to African independence and liberation.”

Indeed, it was 50 years ago this month that under the leadership of Emperor Haile Selassie 32 heads of state signed the founding charter to AU’s predecessor the Organization of African Unity (OAU). And to mark the occasion, Yaddi said, he has collaborated with his friend reggae musician Iré Taylor (Reginald Taylor) for a poetic and musical tribute.

“I wanted to commemorate the Golden Jubilee by remembering those who worked hard to establish the OAU, leaders like Haile Selassie, and applaud the Union’s historic and unwavering stand against apartheid in South Africa, as well as the present economic promise of African Nations and the selection of the first woman chair,” he said.


You can watch the video on You Tube here. The music is also available on iTunes, spotify, Amazon, and Zune.

Watch: African Union New Flag Design Winner Yadessa Zewege on ETV

Watch: ETV Interview Part 2

Watch: Tanzania’s President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete Poses for a photo with Yadesa Bojia

Watch: African Union African Union Yaddi & Iré (Official Music video)


Related:
Photos: United Nations Marks OAU-AU 50th Anniversary (TADIAS)
Yadesa Bojia Interview with Voice of America
Moammar Gadhafi on Larry King 9/28/09

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Tadias Interview: Alemtsehay Wedajo, Founder of Tayitu Cultural Center

Alemtsehay Wedajo acting in Macbeth staged by Tayitu Cultural Center in D.C. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Saturday, April 6, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – Washington, D.C.-based Ethiopian actress, playwright and poet Alemtsehay Wedajo has composed over 400 Amharic lyrics for many legendary singers from Ethiopia, including Mahmoud Ahmed, Aster Aweke, Muluken Melese and the late Tilahun Gessese. But she is best known for her signature works in theatrical productions, such as Yalteyaze (Available). Last year scenes from this play were selected for performance at the University of Southern California’s celebrating “Voices from the Black Diaspora” — a USC Arts and Humanities initiative exploring “Visions and Voices” the multiple ways that identity is transformed and articulated in a global world.

“Early in my younger years, 13 to be exact, my teachers recognized my interest and talent in the arts particularly in poetry, playwriting and acting,” Alemtsehay told Tadias Magazine.

Later when she immigrated to the United States after working for several years as an actress and as the first female director at Ethiopia’s National Theatre in Addis Ababa — where at same time she launched the ‘children theater section’ at the Ministry of Culture serving as its head for nearly a decade — she said her parents were still not pleased. “With all these accomplishments in my profession as a performer, my family, particularly my father, were never satisfied since I did not complete a university education,” Alemtsehay said.

“So, after I came to America, working two jobs and raising two children, I started attending college and completed my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.”

Alemtsehay is also the founder of Tayitu Cultural Center, formerly known as Tayitu Entertainment, a U.S.-based non-profit organization which held its first book release event and reading session in Washington D.C. in August 2000. Since then, the program has become one of the primary platforms for Ethiopian drama presentations in the United States. For the past 13 years Tayitu Cultural Center has put together more than 30 stage shows and traditional musical concerts. Alemtsehay emphasized that the center conjointly trains young Ethiopian-Americans in Amharic-poetry writing and acting. Tayitu has nurtured a number of aspiring artists and comedians in addition to hosting a popular monthly poetry night called YeWeru Gitm Mishit, showcasing emerging and veteran talents not only in literature, but also in painting, filmmaking and music, as well as highlighting various communities.

“Regardless of the trauma of adjusting to a new life in America and supporting my family, my love for my profession never faded away,” she said. “Being a woman is not easy.”

The association was named after Empress Tayitu Bitul who is famous for her historic role at the battle of Adwa during the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1896. “My two big dreams are to build a statue of Tayitu in Addis Ababa and to establish a permanent Ethiopian Cultural Center in Washington D.C.,” Alemtsehay said. “My other female role model is the beloved great actress and singer the late Asnakech Worku.”

As for the current generation of young people who want to follow in her own footsteps, “Have faith, dream high, be strong and do not quit,” she advises.


Photo from African Poetry night organized by Tayitu Cultural Center. (Courtesy photograph)


Alemtsehay Wedajo (Courtesy photo)

You can learn more about the artist and Tayitu Cultural Center at www.tayituentertainment.com.

Related:
Taitu Cultural Center Opens Amharic Library in D.C.
Netsa Art Village: Ethiopia’s Cutting Edge Contemporary Art Movement

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Netsa Art Village: Ethiopia’s Cutting Edge Contemporary Art Movement

Contemporary Ethiopian artist Tamrat Gazahegn with his artwork at Netsa Village. (photo courtesy AFP/Jenny Vaughan).

By artdaily.org

April 2nd,2013 | AFP Jenny Vaughan

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Under a canopy of trees in a park not far from Addis Ababa’s National Museum, home of many of Ethiopia’s historic national treasures, a contemporary art revolution is quietly afoot. It is here at Netsa Art Village that the experimental work made from shoelaces by Merhet Debebe can be found, or the vibrantly-coloured work of Tamrat Gazahegn, who uses tree trunks as canvases. Nearby are the giant sculptures of jazz musicians, trains and horse-drawn carts made from metal scraps and trash by Tesfahun Kibru. The collective, the only one of its kind in Ethiopia, is made up of 15 artists who are spearheading Ethiopia’s contemporary art movement, shifting away from endless copies of Ethiopia’s ancient Coptic Christian paintings. Still in its infancy, the movement marks a daring shift away from the commercial art that dominates many of Ethiopia’s mainstream galleries, and seeks to put the country on the map in the international art world as a source for cutting edge work.

Read more at artdaily.org.

Tewodros Hagos: Winner of the First ‘Ethiopia Creates’ Art Prize

Painting by Tewodros Hagos from his 2013 U.S. exhibition at the Little Ethiopia Cultural and Resource Center in Los Angeles, California. (Image: Faces from the streets of Ethiopia, acrylic on canvas )

Tadias Magazine
Art News

Updated: Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Los Angeles (TADIAS) – Last year, Negist Legesse, also known as Nikki, director of the Little Ethiopia Cultural and Resource Center in Los Angeles asked her friend, commercial director and fine artist Lori Precious, to co-create an art competition for Ethiopian artists in Ethiopia. The first place winner would receive a trip to L.A., an exhibition of their artwork and a cash award.

“I was immediately intrigued since I had traveled to Ethiopia a couple of times and had taken note of some interesting contemporary art, including a visit to artist Elias Sime’s studio in Addis Ababa, (who had a 2009 solo show at Santa Monica Museum of Art and is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art),” Lori said in a statement announcing the first winner of the prize. “I said yes and ‘Ethiopia Creates’ was born.”

Lori said then launched a website and made radio announcements in Ethiopia. “Nearly a year went by and many submissions were received,” she added. “I then selected a group of judges who I knew to have impeccable taste and a sharp eye for new talent.” The judges included Alitash Kebede, owner of Alitash Kebede Gallery in LA, Bennett and Julie Roberts, co-owners of Roberts Tilton Gallery in Culver City, and painter Laura Owens.

The inaugural award went to Tewodros Hagos, whose haunting portraits of faces from Ethiopia wowed the group. “The judges viewed all the work collected via photographs,” Lori said. “The verdict was unanimous. Tewodros Hagos won first place in a landslide.”

As the first winner of the prize, Tewodros, who is a graduate of Addis Ababa University’s art school, participated in a week plus residency in Los Angeles earlier this month, and the first American exhibition of his work was held at the Little Ethiopia Cultural and Resource Center (LECRC) from February 10th to 16th, 2013.

Tewodros also spent time with inner city kids where he gave after school art lessons. According to organizers, a portion of the sales of Tewodros’ art from the Little-Ethiopia exhibition goes to Artists for Charity (AFC) in Addis Ababa. AFC was founded by Ethiopian American artist Abezash Tamerat and supports 18 HIV positive orphans who live and study together.

Organizers said they hope to expand the residency program in California next year to include more workshops and displays of the artist’s work in local galleries.

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Haile Gerima’s Film ‘Bush Mama’ Part of L.A. Rebellion

Haile Gerima's "Bush Mama" is about a Watts single mom's political awakening. It screens next month at The Museum of the Moving Image in New York. Haile will be present at the event. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2013

New York (TADIAS) – Ethiopian-born filmmaker Haile Gerima is among a group of African and African American independent producers and directors who were students at UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, in the sixties and seventies as part of an “Ethno-Communications” initiative designed to empower minorities. Their work is being highlighted in an upcoming film series at The Museum of the Moving Image in Queens from February 2–24.

“Now referred to as L.A. Rebellion, these mostly unheralded artists, including Charles Burnett, Julie Dash, Larry Clark, Billy Woodberry, and many others, created a unique cinematic landscape, as—over the course of two decades—students arrived, mentored one another, and passed the torch to the next group,” the museum said in its announcement. “They came from Watts. They came from New York City. They came from throughout America or crossed an ocean from Africa. Together, they made movies and produced a rich, innovative, sustained, and intellectually rigorous body of work. The filmmakers of L.A. Rebellion achieved this while realizing a new possibility for “Black” cinema, one that explored and related to the real lives of Black communities in the U.S. and worldwide.”

If You Go:
February 2–24
36-01 35 Avenue
Astoria, NY 11106
718 777 6888
www.movingimage.us
Organized by the UCLA Film & Television Archive

Below are images from some of the films featured at the ‘L.A. Rebellion’ series



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Philadelphia: Debo Band Brings Sounds of Ethiopia, Much More to Town

At World Cafe Live in Philadelphia last weekend Debo Band drew on Ethiopian pop music from the 1970s and many other sources. The band's spirit of adventure made it a pleasing performance. (Courtesy Photo)

Philadelphia Inquirer

KEVIN L. CARTER, FOR THE INQUIRER

Hard-driving African music held court Saturday night at World Cafe Live. And though rhythms of Africa and its diaspora dominated the proceedings, drums had very little to do with this domination.
Debo Band, from Boston, has gone all in on the Ethiopian pop music of the 1970s, a veritable golden age of creativity in that venerable land. Though other groups, including Either/Orchestra, Debo’s Hub homeboys, have done homage to this music, none is as adventurous or unabashedly traditional as Debo.

Read more at Philadelphia Inquirer.

Watch: Debo Band: Ethiopian Funk On A Muggy Afternoon (NPR)


Related:
Debo Band: Ethiopian Funk, Reinvented (NPR)
Interview with Debo Band’s Founder Danny Mekonnen (TADIAS)

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SELEDA: Ethiopian Art Exhibition in the Bay Area

The exhibition will be held at the Jazz Heritage Center's Lush Life Gallery in San Francisco, California.

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Friday, January 11, 2013

San Francisco (TADIAS) – An art exhibition featuring works by Ethiopian artists residing in the United States is scheduled to open in the Bay Area this weekend. The event organized by the Ethiopian Arts Forum and the San Francisco Jazz Heritage Center takes place at center’s Lush Life Gallery from Saturday, January 12th to February 17th, 2013.

Among the artists highlighted include Yisehak Fikre-Sellassie, Ezra Wube, Solomon Asfaw, Tadesse Alemayehu, Tesfa Besu Amlak and Yohannes Tesfaye.

The opening reception, which is free and open to the public, is scheduled for tomorrow (Saturday, January 12th) from 6PM to 9PM and includes live jazz and discussion about Ethiopian art and music.

If You Go:
SELEDA: Fine Art Exhibition
Opening: Saturday, January 12, 2013 (6PM – 9PM)
Jazz Heritage Center’s Lush Life Gallery
1320 Fillmore Street
San Francisco, CA
For more information call: 415-255-7745
Email: info@jazzheritagecenter.org
Click here to learn more at the Jazz Heritage Center

Related:
New Exhibition Highlights the History of Africans in India

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High Hopes for Ethiopia’s Rising Classical Music Stars – Video

One evening last month, the sounds of classical Spain could be heard in an unlikely place: the Ethiopian National Theatre in Addis Ababa. Onstage were the talented students of the Yared School, Ethiopia’s only institute of higher learning for music; directing them was Silvia Sanz Torre, conductor of the Metropolitan Orchestra of Madrid. And in more ways than one, the performance ended on a high note. (Radio Netherlands Worldwide)

Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

By Borja Santos Porras, Addis Ababa

“This concert has encouraged the students to continue studying and working a lot,” says Yared School director Tadele Tilahun. “In Ethiopia, there has not been an orchestra concert in the last 30 to 40 years purely formed by students or teachers of Ethiopia.”

Around for over four decades, Yared, which is part of Addis Ababa University, has become a special spot for budding musicians, often fresh out of secondary school. To enrol, candidates must all demonstrate musical talent. But aside from that, each student’s story is unique.

Continue reading at Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

Watch:

2012 in Review: Ten Arts & Culture Stories

The late artist Afewerk Tekle speaking at Stanford University on March 7, 2004. (Photo: Tadias Magazine File)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Wednesday, December 26, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – In 2012 we lost Ethiopia’s most famous painter, Maitre Artiste Afewerk Tekle, who died last Spring at the age of 80 and was laid to rest at the cemetery of the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa on April 14th. Speaking about his life-long dedication to the fine arts, Afewerk Tekle once said: “At the end of the day, my message is quite simple. I am not a pessimist, I want people to look at my art and find hope. I want people to feel good about Ethiopia, about Africa, to feel the delicate rays of the sun. And most of all, I want them to think: Yitchalal! [It's possible!]” Our coverage of Afewerk’s passing was one of the most shared articles from Tadias magazine this year: (In Memory of Maitre Artiste Afewerk Tekle: His Life Odyssey).

Below are other arts and culture stories that captured our attention in 2012.

Marcus Samuelsson’s Memoir ‘Yes, Chef’

Marcus Samuelsson released his best-selling memoir Yes, Chef back in June. From contracting tuberculosis at age 2, losing his birth mother to the same disease, and being adopted by a middle-class family in Sweden, Marcus would eventually break into one of the most exclusive clubs in the world, rising to become a top chef with a resume including cooking at the White House as a guest chef for President Obama’s first State Dinner three years ago. Since then, Marcus has morphed into a brand of his own, both as an author and as owner of Red Rooster in Harlem. Earlier this year, Tseday Alehegn interviewed Marcus about his book.

Watch: Tadias interview with Marcus Samuelsson

Dinaw Mengestu Named MacArthur ‘genius’ Fellow

Ethiopian American novelist and writer Dinaw Mengestu was named a MacArthur genius Fellow in September. The Associated Press reported Dinaw’s selection along with the full list of 22 other winners. Dinaw is the author of The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears and How to Read the Air. In addition to the two novels, he has written for several publications, including Rolling Stone, Jane Magazine, Harper’s, and The Wall Street Journal. According to MacArthur Foundation, the “genius grant” is a recognition of the winners “originality, insight, and potential” and each person will receive $500,000 over the next five years. Below is a video of Dinaw discussing the award.

Ethiopia at Miss Universe 2012


Helen Getachew (Photo credit: Miss Universe)

After years of absence from the Miss Universe pageant, Ethiopia graced the global stage this year represented by 22-year-old Helen Getachew. The competition was held in Las Vegas on December 19, 2012. Women from over 80 countries participated in the 61st annual contest. The new Miss Universe is Miss USA Olivia Culpo, a 20-year-old beauty queen from Rhode Island and the first American to claim the coveted title since 1997. Olivia was crowned Miss Universe 2012 by Miss Universe 2011 Leila Lopes of Angola. Over the next year Olivia will hit the road on behalf of her cause: HIV/AIDS prevention as mentioned on her official pageant profile.

A Prodigy Reviving Ethiopian Jazz & A Rock Band from Ethiopia Called Jano


Samuel Yirga (Photo courtesy of Worldisc)

Two distinctly different Ethiopian musical acts emerged in 2012 that are sure to dominate the entertainment scene in the coming year. Samuel Yirga (pictured above) is a U.S.-based pianist from Ethiopia whose debut album Guzo has won critical acclaim. Here is how NPR described the artist and his work in its recent review of his new CD: “A 20-something prodigy, Yirga is too young to have experienced the Ethio-jazz movement of the early 1970s, but he has absorbed its music deeply — and plenty more as well. With his debut release, Guzo (Journey) Yirga both revives and updates Ethiopian jazz.” Likewise, the new Ethiopian rock band Jano is also influenced by legendary musicians of the same era, but as their producer Bill Laswell put it: They don’t join the ranks of Ethiopian music, they break the rules.” Below is the latest music video teaser by Jano.

Teddy Afro Abroad


Teddy Afro pictured during a surprise party thrown for him at Meaza Restaurant in Falls Church, Virginia following his performance at Echostage in Washington D.C on Friday, November 23rd, 2012. (Photo: By Matt Andrea for Tadias Magazine)

In 2012 Teddy Afro gave us Tikur Sew, which is undoubtedly the most talked about music video of the year in our community. And Teddy’s current world tour is winning him new international support outside of his loyal Ethiopian fan base. (Click here to watch a highlight of Teddy’s growing popularity on the global stage by China Central Television – CCTV)

Two Ethiopian American Bands Make a Splash: Debo & CopperWire


Debo Band is an 11-member Boston-based group led by Ethiopian-American saxophonist Danny Mekonnen and fronted by vocalist Bruck Tesfaye. (Courtesy Photo)

In its thumbs-up review of Debo band’s self-titled first album released this year, NPR noted: “The particular beauty of Debo Band is that you don’t have to be an ethnomusicologist to love it: It’s all about the groove. Debo Band transforms the Ethiopian sound through the filter of its members’ collective subconscious as imaginative and plugged-in 21st-century musicians…The swooning, hot romance of Yefikir Wegene bursts up from the same ground as the funky horns of Ney Ney Weleba. From that hazy shimmer of musical heat from faraway Addis, a thoroughly American sound emerges.” Similarly, another Ethiopian American musical ensemble that made a splash this year is the sci-fi trio ‘CopperWire’ that produced the futuristic album Earthbound. The hip-hop space opera takes place in the year 2089 featuring three renegades from another world who hijack a spacecraft and ride it to Earth, and eventually land in Ethiopia. Watch below CopperWire’s music video ET Phone Home.

Fendika Dancers’s First Solo American Tour


Melaku Belay and Zenash Tsegaye of Fendika Dancers (Courtesy photo )

After thrilling New York audiences at Lincoln Center in summer 2011, members of the Addis Ababa-based musical troupe, Fendika, returned to the East Coast for their first solo tour in 2012 with stops that included New York, Washington, D.C, Boston, Hartford, Connecticut and Smithfield, Rhode Island.

Mahmoud Ahmed, Gosaye Tesfaye and Selam Woldemariam at the Historic Howard Theatre


Mahmoud Ahmed performs at Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, May 26th, 2012. (Photo by Matt Andrea)

Mahmoud Ahmed and Gosaye Tesfaye performed at the historic Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C. during a Memorial Day weekend concert on Saturday, May 26th, 2012. It was the first time that Ethiopian music was featured at the iconic venue, which re-opened in April following a $29 million renovation. The event was organized by Massinko Entertainment, and also included an appearance by guitarist Selam Woldemariam whose collaborative concerts with Brooklyn-based musician Tomas Donker at Summer Stage in New York was part of the biggest entertainment stories that we covered this year.

Journalist Bofta Yimam Nominated for Regional Emmy Awards


Bofta Yimam is an Ethiopian American reporter currently working for Fox 13 News in Memphis, Tennessee. (Courtesy photo)

Last but not least, Ethiopian American Journalist Bofta Yimam who is a reporter for Fox 13 News in Memphis, Tennessee, was nominated this year for Regional Emmy Awards by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (Nashville/Mid-South Chapter) for her journalism work. The winners will be announced on Saturday, January 26th, 2013 at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville where the ceremony will be telecast live beginning at 8:00 PM. Below is a video of Tsedey Aragie’s interview with Bofta Yimam.



Related:
2012 in Pictures: Politics, London Olympics and Alem Dechasa

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CCTV: Teddy Afro Gaining International Recognition

Teddy Afro pictured during a surprise party thrown for him at Meaza Restaurant in Falls Church, Virginia following his performance at Echostage in Washington D.C on Friday, November 23rd, 2012. (Photo: By Matt Andrea for Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
Art Talk

Updated: Thursday, December 13, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – As Teddy Afro continues his current world tour, the Ethiopian pop star is also attracting international media attention. Teddy performed for a sold-out crowd at Echostage in Washington D.C last month, accompanied by Abogida Band, and as part of his ongoing concert series.

In the following video, the English program of China Central Television (CCTV), highlights Teddy’s growing popularity on the global stage.

Watch: Ethiopian pop star Teddy Afro (CCTV Video)


Related:
Photos From Teddy Afro’s Concert in DC (TADIAS)

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TEDx Video: Gabriel Teodros Does Hip Hop & Science Fiction

Seattle-based hip-hop musician Gabriel Teodros, right, with fellow Ethiopian-American artists Meklit Hadero, left, and Elias Fullmore, center, pictured in a promo image for their group CopperWire's space fiction album called "Earthbound," released in 2012. (Photo: CopperWire)

Tadias Magazine
By Tigist Selam

Updated: Monday, December 10th, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Last month musician Gabriel Teodros was highlighted at ‘TEDx Talks’ in Seattle. The artist was part of the Ethiopian American sci-fi trio CopperWire that earlier this year produced the futuristic album Earthbound. The hip-hop space opera takes place in the year 2089 featuring three renegades from another world who hijack a spacecraft and ride it to Earth, and eventually land in Ethiopia.

In the spirit of creative “ideas worth spreading,” TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share their experiences. “To know that another world is possible, and to bring it to life through music; this has always been the mission of Gabriel Teodros,” the program announcement stated. “He made a mark with groups CopperWire, Abyssinian Creole and Air 2 A Bird, and reached an international audience with his critically-acclaimed solo debut Lovework.”

The following is a video from the event that took place at TEDxRainier in Seattle on November 10, 2012. Gabriel performed and told his personal story as an artist, culturally mixed heritage and his relationship with his parents — a mother who is an immigrant from Ethiopia and a father who is a Vietnam veteran from Duvall, Washington.

Watch: Hip Hop & Science Fiction — Gabriel Teodros at TEDxRainier


Related:
CopperWire: How Jam Sessions in Ethiopia Became a Hip-Hop Space Opera

Watch: CopperWire’s official video for the song ‘ET Phone Home’ from their ‘Earthbound’ album


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A Writers’ Celebration of Romare Bearden

Romare Bearden. (Photo courtesy of the Romare Bearden Foundation)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Monday, December 3, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Earlier this year, as part of Black History Month — and in conjunction with displays of his paintings at Macy’s stores nationwide, including works owned by Alitash Kebede Gallery — we had highlighted the distinguished African American artist and writer Romare Bearden.

The Poetry Center in New York now invites creative writers to speak about what Bearden’s life and art has meant to them. An announcement of the event highlights Playwright August Wilson’s praise of Romare Bearden for his celebration of “black life presented on its own terms, on a grand and epic scale, with all its richness and fullness, in a language that was vibrant.”

According to organizers, the tribute this evening at 92nd Street Y also features a special showing of Bearden’s artwork.

The event is a collaboration with the Romare Bearden Foundation, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and The West Chester University Poetry Center.

If You Go:
Monday, December 3 at 8:00 pm
92nd Street Y
1395 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10128
Tickets: $24-$42
Call 212-415-5500 to order
Click here to buy tickets

Related:
Untold Stories from African and the Diaspora Fall Film

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NPR on Samuel Yirga: A Prodigy Reviving Ethiopian Jazz

Samuel Yirga's debut album is called Guzo. (Photo courtesy of Worldisc)

NPR – By BANNING EYRE

All Things Considered

Samuel Yirga is a pianist from Ethiopia. A 20-something prodigy, Yirga is too young to have experienced the Ethio-jazz movement of the early 1970s, but he has absorbed its music deeply — and plenty more as well. With his debut release, Guzo, or “Journey,” Yirga both revives and updates Ethiopian jazz.

His talent was recognized early, but music educators in Ethiopia placed roadblocks in Yirga’s path. First, they told him his hands were too small to play piano. Later, he was thrown out of a prominent music school for experimenting too much. Yirga fit in better in the anything-goes world music scene in England. At last a place where his penchant to fuse jazz, Latin music, classical, pop and Ethiopian sounds made perfect sense.

On “Abet Abet,” a Fender Rhodes piano vamps while a traditional violin plays dark harmonies to conjure a delicious mood of foreboding. The sound instantly allies Yirga with Ethiopia’s fabled musical past, a time when indigenous folk musicians, brass bands and local funksters found common ground in the capital Addis Ababa.

On “I Am the Black Gold of the Sun,” Yirga enters into a kind of retro soul-jazz collaboration with the Creole Choir of Cuba. Quirky, yes, but decidedly original. Among the intriguing ensemble pieces on this album are three solo piano compositions, and this is where we can really take the measure of a maverick young player.

Yirga throws a lot into the mix with this release. He actually risks being overwhelmed by his influences, whether they be the unmistakable rhythms and modes of Ethiopia, or any of his other wide-ranging borrowings. Yirga has had to fight for his right to be himself, and in the end, the voice and vision of a distinctive composer shines through in this impressive debut.

Click here to listen.

Related:
2012 in Review: Ten Arts & Culture Stories
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‘The Athlete’: Catch A Movie About Abebe Bikila at Film Festival Flix

“Atletu (The Athlete)," produced and directed by Davey Frankel and Rasselas Lakew, is a tale of extraordinary determination and of a singular man, Abebe Bikila. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Aida Solomon

Updated: Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Los Angeles (TADIAS) – It is no secret that Ethiopia has produced some of the world’s greatest long distance runners. Rasselas Lakew’s independent film Atletu (The Athlete), pays tribute to the first runner that paved the way for generations of African athletes in the Olympic Games — the marathon hero Abebe Bikila.

Directed by Davey Frankel and Ethiopian-born Rasselas Lakew, Atletu, which was released in 2009, is currently featured as part of Film Festival Flix’s monthly theatrical series and an online platform that brings lesser-known movies to audiences around the country. Lakew, who co-wrote the script and also stars as the legendary runner, will attend the screenings along with the co-director.

In the film, Abebe Bikila is introduced to the audience well after his physical prime, while visiting family in Jato, Ethiopia in 1969. Driving a creaky Volkswagen on a dirt road, Bikila takes a literal and figurative drive down memory lane, passing through the breathtaking countryside of his childhood as actual footage of Bikila’s past races are juxtaposed together.

Bikila, who served as a member of the Imperial Bodyguard of Emperor Haile Selassie, became the first African to win a gold medal in the 1960 Rome Olympics, which he run barefoot, and setting into motion the legacy of long-distance running in Ethiopia. He won his second consecutive gold four years later in Tokyo in a new world record time, becoming the first athlete to win the Olympic marathon twice. The film’s archival footage highlights Bikila’s historic finish in Italy as he ran through the streets of Rome – passing by the stolen Ethiopian Obelisk monument while cruising to victory.

A symbolic slap in the face to Ethiopia’s former occupier, Italy, Bikila catapulted into international stardom. Several years after the Rome Olympics, however, Bikila realizes that other young stars from his country are conquering the sport. Atletu touches upon Bikila’s reckoning with being an aging legend in his country, as he focuses his attention on the upcoming 1972 Munich Games.

Unfortunately Bikila’s qualification for Munich is further deterred by a car accident that he suffers on his trip back to Addis Ababa from the countryside. Declared a quadriplegic, Bikila has to endure months of rehabilitation in the U.K., and his final race is never fulfilled.

Rasselas Lakew’s portrait of Bikila is stoic and understated, garnering him the “Best Actor” award from the 2011 Brooklyn Film Festival. Although Lakew studied Geology in college, he was drawn to filmmaking in the hopes of creating African narratives created by Africans. Lakew, who now lives and works in New York, took film-studies courses at Montana State University film school in the early 90′s. Lakew says Bikila’s remarkable story is a neglected one, a “man of the mountains” who “conquered Rome” with his bare feet.

With stunning cinematography, a memorable soundtrack, and archival footage that is sure to stir pride and please any heart, Atletu (The Athlete) is a modern ode to one of Ethiopia’s legendary heroes.

Watch: Atletu (The Athlete) Movie Trailer


Related:
Abebe Bikila: Athletic Legend Honored With Google Doodle (TADIAS)

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Music Video Teaser by the Ethiopian Rock Band Jano Creates Online Buzz

Members of the new rock band Jano consists of four vocalists - two male and two female - two guitarists, two keyboard players, a bassist and a drummer. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff | Art Talk

Updated: Thursday, October 18, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – You may remember the new Ethiopian rock band Jano from our interview over the summer with their producer Bill Laswell who told us that he is convinced that the ten-member ensemble that fuses distinctly Ethiopian sounds with heavy guitar, will be the next big musical act on the world stage to come out of the country. Laswell had promised an unconventional marketing strategy to introduce the group to outside audiences.

“It will come as a word-of-mouth and not so much as a marketing distribution build up how America does things, but more to do with getting that interest to communities,” Laswell had said. “I think it will start in the Ethiopian community and hopefully it will build into what the world calls the ‘World Music’ genre, which is pretty big internationally.”

Jano recently released a teaser video that is already creating a buzz within the Ethiopian community online and elsewhere.

You can watch the video below and join the conversation on Facebook.



Watch: The Ethiopian Rock Band Jano – Interview with Producer Bill Laswell (TADIAS)

Interview: Alemayhou Gebremedhin on his Obama Painting, Plus Photos

Artist Alemayhou Gebremedhin pictured at Richmond Art Show. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff | Art Talk

Updated: Monday, October 8th, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Regardless of who wins in November, and despite President Obama’s restrained and lackluster performance at the presidential debate last week, there is still a voter in Virginia who says the incumbent doesn’t have to worry about losing his support.

“My personal admiration and respect for Obama goes far beyond politics,” says Alexandria-based artist Alemayhou Gebremedhin, whose portrait of the President was recently presented to Yohannes Abraham, Deputy National Political Director of Obama for America 2012, at the Ethiopian New Year celebration event held last month beneath the Washington Monument in the nation’s capital. According to All Eyes on Africa, Mr. Abraham, the Ethiopian-American campaign official who accepted the gift, also delivered a message of “Happy New Year” from President Obama to the Ethiopian community in the United States.

Alemayhou told TADIAS he started the painting four years ago after he watched Obama’s acceptance speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. “That was the day I said, wow, this guy is someone special, very brave. And if you remember the crowd was something else,” Alemayhou said in a phone interview. “I have been in America for 40 years, I came here in 1972. I attended Howard University in D.C. I have seen all the major changes that took place in this country in the last four decades.”

“When I was watching Obama that day on TV four years ago speaking to 80,000 people gathered outdoors in Denver, Colorado I knew that he was a very serious person and that he was destined for history. His confidence was my inspiration for the painting. I wanted to do something as an artist to capture the imagination that he fired inside me.” He added: “That’s when I started thinking about him in a way that I still do. Almost immediately I began putting my thoughts on canvas. From my personal perspective the fact that Obama became President represents social and cultural progress in the United States in a scale that I never thought was possible in my lifetime. That’s the lens in which I look at him. When he was elected it was an incredibly beautiful feeling for many, many people. I jumped up and said ‘only in America’ like Don King would say. I was so proud of Americans. If you understand the racial history of the United States and how far the country has come even since I got here, for example, in the arts, movies, music, literature, and politics, then you know that symbolically there could be no doubt that Obama is a very important figure in American history. This is what my painting expresses. His name that is written in Amharic on his tie is to show my Ethiopian background.”

Alemayhou, whose colorful paintings are part of the decor in a number of Ethiopian restaurant across the country, said he also exhibits his works at different galleries in the D.C. area, including at Parish Gallery, Anacostia Gallery, and DC Loft Gallery.

“Art is my passion,” he emphasized. “It’s a direct response to my interaction with my environment and a creative expression of my life as well as a personal interpretation of the lives of those around me, their love, pain, dreams and aspirations.”

“Painting is my way of surviving and coping. There is no other way to describe it,” he said.

Below is a slideshow of samples courtesy of the artist, including the Obama painting.

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The New Rough Guide to Ethiopian Music

The World Music Network label has a new CD out called Rough Guide to Ethiopia , which provides samples of everything from Ethio-jazz to contemporary fusion sounds, including classics from Mahmoud Ahmed and Alemayehu Eshete as well as a new Krar Collective. (World Music Network, 2012)

Art Talk | Reviews

World Music Central

Ethiopian music continues to be a source of fascination and listening pleasure. Buda Musique’s Ethiopiques series, 27 volumes strong and full of vintage rediscoveries and new revelations, has certainly had a lot to do with leading the charge. It’s safe to say, though, that the Ethiopian fascination has taken on a life of its own. And it just so happens there’s an ever-increasing supply of releases to satisfy the also rising number of devotees.

It makes perfect sense that World Music Network would put out a second edition of The Rough Guide to the Music of Ethiopia.

Continue reading at World Music Central.
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Related:
Fendika Dancers Returning to U.S. for Solo East Coast Tour
New Film Documents Teshome Mitiku’s Ethiopia Homecoming
Catching Up With Ethiopian American Singer Rachel Brown
Debo Band’s First Album: Interview with the Group’s Founder Danny Mekonnen
The Ethiopian Rock Band, Jano – Interview with Producer Bill Laswell
Amha Eshete & Contribution of Amha Records to Modern Ethiopian Music
How Ethiopian Music Went Global: Interview with Francis Falceto

Artists for Obama Portfolio Set Includes Julie Mehretu, Frank Gehry and More

President Barack Obama and his daughters, Malia, left, and Sasha, watch on television as First Lady Michelle Obama takes the stage to deliver her speech at the Democratic National Convention, in the Treaty Room of the White House, Tuesday night, Sept. 4, 2012. (Photo by Pete Souza / White House)

Tadias Magazine
Art Talk | Election 2012

Published: Wednesday, September 12, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – President Barack Obama’s reelection efforts are getting help from some of America’s most renowned artists, including Ethiopian American painter Julie Mehretu. Mehretu is one of nineteen artists whose work is featured in a portfolio of a limited edition print-set called “Artists for Obama,” which was created in collaboration with Gemini G.E.L., a Los Angeles based art workshop and publishing house.

Organizers have announced that September 24th is the initial New York presentation of a nationwide offering of the special collection. “The evening will be an intimate reception for a maximum of 150 guests, including a number of the artists whose work appears in the portfolio,” the announcement said.

Artists participating in the fundraiser include John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Bruce Nauman, Claes Odenburg, Chris Burden and Frank Gehry.

Per The Los Angeles Times, “Organizers said the portfolio is being offered in exchange for a $28,000 donation to the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee. They said 150 portfolios will be up for sale, for a potential fundraising total of $4.2 million. All proceeds will go toward the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee, according to organizers.”

If You Go:
Monday, September 24
7:00–9:00 PM
535 West 24th Street – 3rd Floor
New York, New York 10011

Portfolio on exhibit through Election Day. Click here to view the Artists for Obama portfolio. Minimum donation for reception: $300 per ticket, $500 per couple, payable to the Obama Victory Fund. Attendance is limited and RSVP is required. RSVP at artforobama@joniweyl.com 212-249-3324.
—-
Related video:
At convention, Obama asks for time to win U.S. revival

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Catching Up with Filmmaker Wondwossen Dikran

Wondwossen Dikran (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Friday, August 31, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – A group of African-born filmmakers in the United States, including Ethiopian-American writer and director Wondwossen Dikran, are collaborating in upcoming movie project exploring one of Africa’s busiest cities.

According to the film’s writer and producer, Benard Neto, a Kenyan native, he drew inspiration for the script from actual stories. “Nairobi is a unique city with a diverse range of characters struggling for survival,” Neto said in a statement. “Growing up I saw the inner workings of the real street hustlers and their constantly evolving relations with the police — this became the basis for Mzungu,” which chronicles the vacation of a lifetime for a character named Jesse Bloom, a charming young traveler who wakes up one morning after a night of hard partying and is arrested for a grizzly murder.

“When the writers and the director pitched me this project, I was instantly drawn to the material for its originality, blistering energy, and the way it deals with certain themes that are very timely right now,” Wondwossen told TADIAS.

Nairobi itself is a home of many worlds. Alternatively known as the “Green City in the Sun” and sporting sprawling villa suburbs, it is also host to some of the biggest urban slums on the continent.


The film’s synopsis notes: “Mzungu” – pronounced [muh-zun-gooo]) – is the southern, central, and eastern African term for foreigner, usually referring to people of European descent. (Image credit: Kickstarter Poster)

“It’s a story that must be told,” Wondwossen said. “I knew after reading the script that I had to get involved because I had never seen or heard anything like it, and here came opportunity to be able to tell this unique story in an unfiltered and unmasked manner.” He added: “On top of this, to be able to film this in Africa gave me extra motivation. There was no way I was going to be able to turn down what could be an opportunity of a lifetime.”

Has Wondwossen been to the Green City in the Sun? “I have never had the pleasure of visiting Nairobi,” he said. “I am looking forward to it.”
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You can learn more about the project at www.kickstarter.com, where the filmmakers have launched campaign to raise $40,000 towards the production of the film.

Debo Band: Ethiopian Funk, Reinvented

The debut album from Boston group Debo Band honors and updates the sound of "swinging Addis." - NPR. (Courtesy Photo)

NPR

Audio for this story from All Things Considered is available here.

Debo Band’s debut album both honors and updates the sound of “swinging Addis.”

On “Asha Gedawo,” the sunny swing of a brass section playing in march time echoes the military bands of Ethiopia’s regal past. Bruck Tesfaye’s lead vocal brings in an element of Ethiopian folklore and a shot of American soul. This is the sound that made Addis swing, until a military coup in 1974 put an end to an extraordinary music scene.

Debo Band’s founder, Danny Mekonnen, was born in Sudan and grew up in Texas, learning about the golden age of Ethiopian pop through recordings. He says Debo Band aims to reinvent old sounds, not just reproduce them. The band adds sousaphone, accordion, electric guitar and violins to the lineup. And the players are strong, capable of improvising their way to the edges of free jazz.

Continue reading at NPR.

Watch: Debo Band: Ethiopian Funk On A Muggy Afternoon (NPR)


Related:
Interview with Debo Band’s Founder Danny Mekonnen (TADIAS)

Photography: Awol Erizku’s Urban Twist to Classic Portraits

24-year-old Awol Erizku at the opening reception of his solo exhibition at Hasted Kraeutler Gallery in New York. (Photo credit: Arte Fuse)

Tadias Magazine
Events News | Art Talk

Published: Friday, July 13, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – In his current photography exhibition at the Hasted Kraeutler Gallery in New York, Awol Erizku, an Ethiopian-born, Bronx-raised photographer, re-imagines famous portraits with a modern, urban twist. In one striking image a woman resembles one of art history’s most famous painting from 1667: Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring.” Except in Awol’s case, the model is an African American woman who maintains the integrity of the pose and mood, and the photo is named “Girl with a Bamboo Earring.”

Awol discovers his subjects in various places, including online via Facebook as well as on the streets and subways. “The models are removed from the present moment yet still float somewhere between their contemporary garb and the historical ghosts they inhabit,” The Huffington Post noted in its recent highlight of the show. “There is an honesty to their expressions despite the fact that we’re staring at pure fiction.”


“Girl with a Bamboo Earring” by Awol Erizku.

If You Go:
Awol Erizku: Powerful Urban Portraiture
Hasted Kraeutler Gallery
537 West 24th Street
New York, NY 10011
Show ends on July 20, 2012
Phone: 212 627 0006
Learn more at: www.hastedkraeutler.com

Tadias Video Interview: Producer Bill Laswell on Jano Band

Members of the new Ethiopian rock band Jano. The group is expected to tour the United States this year following the launch of their upcoming album. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Friday, June 22, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – When it comes to world music, New York-based producer Bill Laswell is convinced that the next big act coming out of Ethiopia is a young rock band called Jano – a ten member ensemble that fuses distinctly Ethiopian sounds with heavy guitar, drum and other instruments.

“I think they were probably deeply influenced by the great musicians of Ethiopia, the great singers without question,” said Laswell in a recent interview with TADIAS. Laswell, who has put together the band’s forthcoming CD, has an extensive resume including work with Ethiopian vocalist Gigi, among others.

Regarding Jano, he added: They have “progressive sounds. It’s very new and very different. Nothing like this ever came out of Ethiopia.”

Laswell said what makes the young musicians unique is that they manage to keep the traditional Ethiopian vibe while appealing to global music lovers. “You hear old songs by singers from the 60′s inside of the rock,” he said. “Another interpretation that might upset some people but carries on the tradition in a modern way.” He continued: “These are modern instruments but it does not overlook the kirar, it does not overlook masinko, it does not overlook the traditional singing, the church music and the power of the tradition. It does not take that for granted. They don’t join the ranks of Ethiopian music, they break the rules.”

The group consists of four vocalists (two male and two female), two guitarists, two keyboard players, a bassist and a drummer – all in their twenties.

According to Laswell, the band was talent-spotted by Ethiopian entrepreneur Addis Gessesse who is also credited for helping to launch the careers of reggae star Ziggy Marley and Ethiopian pop icon Teddy Afro.

As to the release date for Jano’s album, Laswell said they have an unconventional marketing strategy worked out. “The album is done and the packaging is done and they are in the process of creating it now in Ethiopia, and probably it will come here soon,” he said. “It will come as a word-of-mouth and not so much as a marketing distribution build up how America does things, but more to do with getting that interest to communities.” He added: “I think it will start in the Ethiopian community and hopefully it will build into what the world calls the ‘World Music’ genre, which is pretty big internationally.”

Watch: The Ethiopian Rock Band Jano – Interview with Producer Bill Laswell (TADIAS TV)


Related:
Jano Band to Perform at SOB’s in New York
Tadias Video Interview: Ethiopian Rock Band Jano Live in DC (UPDATED)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

NYC Exhibition of Ethiopia Images From Chester Higgins’ Africa Collection

The Sof Omar Cave in the Bale Zone of the Oromia Region (left) and the St. George church in Lalibela - Ethiopia. (Photos by Chester Higgins Jr.)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff | Art Talk

Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – “As a 25-year old, I did not know what to expect, but I knew that I was not traveling to Africa to see the animals,” photographer Chester Higgins Jr. said in the announcement of his current exhibition in New York entitled: My Soul Flies to Africa: Images from an Ongoing Journey.

Higgins, who has been a staff photographer for the New York Times since 1975, has traveled to Africa more than 30 times in the last forty years providing us with stunning photographs that stand in contrast to the endless stream of negative images that often dominate world headlines concerning the continent. He focuses his lens on people, historical locations, and cultural ceremonies – from Ethiopia to Mali – highlighting his deep sense of wonder, grace and connection to his subject matter.

“This installation exhibition is a retrospective of my work in Africa over the past four decades,” Higgins said in a recent interview with Tadias Magazine. “For me, each image represents unique encounters of discovery and becomes a memory of my experience.”

How often does he go to Africa these days? “I try to return to Africa once a year,” Higgins told us. “My most recent trip to Ethiopia was in November through December 2011.”

For his upcoming project in Ethiopia Higgins is focusing his lens on the Abay river. “Actually, I’m looking at how the Nile has, over thousands of years, become a spiritual corridor,” he said. “Perhaps, my photographs will broaden how Americans see Africa.”
—-
If you Go:
Chester Higgins Jr.
Specail exibition hosted by Tekserve
119 W. 23rd Street, NYC
212.929.3645
Tekserve.com
Store Hours: Mon-Fri, Sat 11-7, Sun 11-7
Click here to learn more about Chester Higgins Jr.

Video: An Ongoing Journey – My Soul Flies Home To Africa Opening

Look: Slideshow of Ethiopia photographs by Chester Higgins Jr.

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‘Father of Ethio-Jazz’ Mulatu Astatke Honored at Boston Music School

Ethiopian musician Mulatu Astatke, the members of the Eagles, and Grammy winner Alison Krauss were honored during the Berklee College of Music's commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 12 at Boston University's Agganis Arena. (Photo courtesy of Mulatu Astatke's Facebook page)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Tuesday, May 15, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Influential musician and “Father of Ethio-Jazz” Mulatu Astatke has been awarded an honorary doctorate in music degree from his alma mater The Berklee College of Music – the largest independent college of contemporary music located in Boston. The artist was honored along with the Eagles and Grammy Award-winning country singer Alison Krauss during the school’s commencement ceremony on Saturday.

Keeping with four decades of tradition, where Berklee has been presenting honorary degrees to prominent figures in the music industry, students paid tribute to Mulatu, Krauss and the Eagles with a concert featuring their music. More than 900 students from 58 countries graduated from Berklee this year, according to AP.

“At Berklee, I was immersed in a motivating and creative academic environment where Ethio-jazz was conceived,” Mulatu told the graduating class at a ceremony the night before graduation. “You now have the skills and the education to create new innovations in music . . . You are a selected few with a special gift, and we all have great expectations for you”.

Mulatu was one of the first African students to attend Boston’s prestigious music college, where he studied vibraphone and percussion in the 1960′s.

“This year’s honorary doctorate recipients were recognized for their achievements in contemporary music, for their enduring contributions to popular culture, and for the influence their careers and music have had over Berklee’s international student body,” the school said in a statement. “The Eagles, Krauss, and Astatke join the ranks of such esteemed recipients as Duke Ellington (the first, in 1971), Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, Quincy Jones, Smokey Robinson, David Bowie, Bonnie Raitt, Count Basie, Sting, Loretta Lynn, B.B. King, Billy Joel, Chaka Khan, Steven Tyler, and Patti LaBelle.”

Berklee says its alumni have won a total of 221 Grammys.

Related:
Eagles, Alison Krauss, Ethiopia’s Mulatu Astatke honored at Boston music school (AP)

Interview With Kirubel Assefa: Taza Records’ Upcoming Album ‘Dimtsepia’

Kirubel Assefa Kebede is a California-based Ethiopian musician and the co-owner of the start-up label Taza Records. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff | Art Talk

Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – We hear from industry insiders in Ethiopia to expect a wave of new CD releases in the next few months. One such upcoming album is entitled Dimtsepia, led by Los Angeles-based Ethiopian bassist, drummer and keyboard player Kirubel Assefa. The CD features various musicians, including Fitsum Mahadere, Tsedenia Gebremarkos, and Teklish and is being distributed under Kirubel’s own label Taza Records.

“Our plan is to release the album in Ethiopia in early June and in the U.S. and abroad in late June,” Kirubel told Tadias Magazine.

Dimtsepia is a contraction of the Amharic word Dimtse or sound and Ethiopia,” he said, in response to our inquires regarding the CD’s title. “It means ‘The Sound of Ethiopia’ which is a comprehensive overview of the music contained within.” He added: “The various singers give the songs different vibes. It’s also an excellent format to promote their work, giving them a boost and more visibility.”

As to Taza Records, Kirubel said it is a joint project with an American friend, and that the label is designed to tap into the growing popularity of Ethiopian music outside the country. “The idea behind the label is to create a fair business model for the artists” he said. “While the core audience will be the Ethiopian community, we intend on servicing the music to mainstream outlets. There are many musicians out there who make the music, but the business is left on the table.”


Kirubel Assefa Kebede. (Courtesy photo)

Kirubel grew up in Ethiopia and moved to the States in the late 80’s. He studied music at the Musician’s Institute in Los Angeles. “I began playing at a young age in Ethiopia and was inspired by the many great musicians that dominated the music scene during the early 1970’s,” Kirubel said. “The Roha Band, The Ethio Star and the Walias Band all had significant impact on my playing and sensibilities.” He added: “My neighbor, Gedub Alfred was the drummer for the Wabe Shabelle Band. I saw him on television and from that time onwards I was committed to learning the drums and developing my musical skills.”

What’s his perspective on the globalization of Ethiopian music? “Riffs of African music have found their way into many popular mainstream songs for many years,” Kirubel said. “With elements of jazz and African rhythms, it becomes a fusion of various traditions and the outcome can be absolutely marvelous.”

You can learn more about the new album and hear sample music at www.tazarecords.com.

ART CRITIC: Bedrock of Art and Faith – The St. George Church in Lalibela

The St. George church in Lalibela, dedicated to Ethiopia’s patron saint, is one of 11 Ethiopian Orthodox churches that were carved out of the rock in the 13th century and are literally anchored in the earth. (Damon Winter/The New York Times)

The New York Times
By HOLLAND COTTER

Published: April 20, 2012

LALIBELA, Ethiopia – ON the roads through Ethiopia’s highlands traffic raises a brick-red haze that coats your clothes, powders your skin and starts a creaking in your lungs. Despite the dust people wear white. Farmers wrap themselves in bleached cotton. Village funerals look like fields of snow. At churches and shrines white is the pilgrim’s color. I wear it too, protectively: long-sleeved white shirt, tennis cap, Neutrogena sun block. A pilgrim? Why not?

I’m here for something I’ve longed to see, Ethiopia’s holy cities: Aksum, the spiritual home of this east African country’s Orthodox Christian faith and, especially, the mountain town of Lalibela, with its cluster of 13th-century churches some 200 miles to the south. Lalibela was conceived as a paradise on earth. And its 11 churches, cut from living volcanic rock, are literally anchored in the earth. In scale, number, and variety of form there’s no architecture or sculpture quite like them anywhere. They’re on the global tourist route now, though barely. To Ethiopian devotees they’ve been spiritual lodestars for eight centuries, and continue to be.

Read more at The New York Times.

In Memory of Maitre Artiste Afewerk Tekle: His Life Odyssey

Ethiopia's most famous painter Maitre Artiste Afewerk Tekle, who died last week at the age of 80, was laid to rest at the cemetery of the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa on Saturday, April 14th. (Photos: Afewerk Tekle speaking at Stanford University on March 7, 2004 / Tadias Magazine File photographs)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Saturday, April 14, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – The last time Tadias Magazine interviewed Maitre Artiste Afewerk Tekle was on March 7th, 2004, following his appearance as a Keynote Speaker at Stanford University’s Pioneers Forum organized by the Stanford Ethiopian Student Union. There are few moments as electric as when Afewerk Tekle walked through the crowded auditorium to give an insider’s view of his accomplishments and life adventures. Elegantly clad in the sheer white of the Ethiopian national costume, Maitre Artiste Afewerk let his artistic mind captivate the audience as he took his red-bordered netela to demonstrate the various ways that one can wear the shawl for different public occasions, including as a graduation gown. He received a thunderous applause as he concluded his brief demonstration.

“At the end of the day, my message is quite simple,” he told the diverse audience from the university and the larger Bay Area Ethiopian community. It was the first time since the mid-1960’s that he had formally traveled to the United States to talk about his award-winning artwork.

“I am not a pessimist, I want people to look at my art and find hope,” he said. “I want people to feel good about Ethiopia, about Africa, to feel the delicate rays of the sun. And most of all, I want them to think: Yitchalal! [It's possible!]”

Speaking about his life-long dedication to the fine arts, Maitre Afewerk Tekle instilled in his audience the importance of using art to inspire people, to uplift nations and to create an optimistic view of life. “What we do today must reflect today’s life for tomorrow’s generation and pave the way for the future generation,” he said. “Art is in every fabric of life.”

Afewerk Tekle was born in the town of Ankober in Ethiopia on October 22nd, 1932. Having grown up in an Ethiopia battling fascist Italian forces, Afewerk was acutely aware of the destruction of war and the need to rebuild his native home. Intent on acquiring skills that would allow him to contribute to Ethiopia’s restoration, the young Afewerk settled on pursuing his studies in mining engineering.

His family and friends, however, had already recognized his inner talent in the arts. Around town he was know for his drawings on walls using stones, and for possessing a curious and ever reflective mind. Despite his natural gravitation to the art world, at the age of 15 Afewerk was chosen to be sent abroad to England to commence his engineering studies.

Maitre Afewerk recalled being summoned by Emperor Haile Selassie to receive last-minute advice prior to his departure. “To this day I cannot forget his words,” the Maitre said pensively. “The Emperor began by counseling us to study, study, and study.” he told the audience. “He told us: you must work hard, and when you come back do not tell us what tall buildings you saw in Europe, or what wide streets they have, but make sure you return equipped with the skills and the mindset to rebuild Ethiopia.” Maitre Afewerk later confided that this sermon rang in his head each time he was tempted to seek the easy life, free from the responsibility of rebuilding his nation and uplifting his people.

As one of the earliest batch of African students admitted to exclusive boarding schools in England, Afewerk faced culture shock and the occasional strife caused by “English bullies.” Yet he remained steadfast in pursuing his studies. He especially excelled in courses such as mathematics, chemistry and history, but it was not long before his teachers discovered his art talent.

With the encouragement of his mentor and teachers, Afewerk decided to focus on refining his gift and enrolled at the Central School of Arts & Crafts in London. Upon completion of his studies he was accepted as the first African student at the prestigious Faculty of Fine Arts at Slade (University of London). At Slade, Afewerk focused on painting, sculpture and architecture.

Upon returning to Ethiopia, Maitre Afewerk traveled throughout the country, to every province, staying at each location for a period of up to three months, immersing himself in the study of his surroundings and absorbing Ethiopia’s historical and cultural diversity. He pushed himself to become an Ethiopian artist with world recognition.


Maitre Afewerk Tekle speaking at Stanford University in California on March 7, 2004. (Photo: TADIAS Archive)

“I had to study Ethiopian culture,” the artist said, “because an important ingredient of a world artist is to have in your artwork the flavor of where you were born.” He added, “My art will belong to the world but with African flavor.”

Above all, Maitre Afewerk worked diligently in the hopes of using his artwork as a social medium with which to highlight the history, struggles and beauty of his native home. Although he was educated abroad, he fought against what he called “the futile imitation of other artists’ works, Western or otherwise.”

With the message of rebuilding Ethiopia still ringing in his ears, Maitre Afewerk quickly decided to relinquish the ministerial post assigned to him upon completion of his university studies, and opted instead to devote his full attention to painting and exhibiting his artwork both at home and abroad.

At age 22, Afewerk Tekle held his first significant one-man exhibition at the Municipality Hall in Addis Ababa in 1954. He followed up his success by conducting an extensive study tour of art in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and Greece, paying particular attention to collections of Ethiopian illustrated manuscripts as well as acquiring skills in stained-glass artwork.

Returning home he was commissioned to create religious art for St. George’s Cathedral. He also worked on some of the first sculptures depicting Ethiopian national heroes. His designs and inspirations were soon printed on stamps and national costumes. Most notably, he conceptualized and designed the elaborate stainedglass window artwork in Africa Hall at the headquarters of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

With the income and savings he acquired by selling his artwork Afewerk designed his own 22-room house, studio and gallery, which he nicknamed ‘Villa Alpha.’

By 1964 Maitre Afewerk had held his second successful exhibition, thereafter followed by his first show abroad in Russia, the United States and Senegal. Touring African nations at a time when parts of the continent was still under the yoke of colonialism, Afewerk Tekle used his paintings to spotlight the struggle, naming his artwork with titles such as Backbones of the African Continent, Africa’s Heritage, and African Unity. The theme of African independence and the interrelationship of African cultures are indelibly etched in Maitre Afewerk’s creations.

“Your brush can be quite stronger than the machine gun,” he said “I wanted to show how you can write Africa through your artwork, what it means to have liberty, to have your fellow humans completely equal.”

Many art critics have tried, time and time again, to label and categorize his work as having either European or African influence, and sometimes even both. He told us, however, that “you should be free and liberated in your thoughts and style. Your art should speak to you in your hidden language.”

Maitre Afewerk noted that 10% of his work is considered religious art while at least 50% echoes Ethiopian influence. But there is room for him to explore and develop his own style that speaks to his inner muse.

Today, Maitre Afewerk’s art is known and celebrated throughout the world, and indeed he has achieved his dream of becoming an Ethiopian artist with world recognition. He has uplifted Ethiopia, and at the same time his art has been infused into the daily life of his community and fellow citizens.

Around the time that Afewerk Tekle came to speak at Stanford, his art projects around Addis were hard to miss — depicting heroes such as world champion athlete Haile Gebresellasie. At the bottom corner of the artworks there was an Amharic phrase that said it all: Yitchalal!.

Click here to learn more about Afewerk Tekle.

Related:
Funeral Ceremony held for Maitre Artiste World Laureate Afewerk Tekle (News Dire)
Ethiopia mourns death of Maitre Artiste world laureate – Afewerk Tekle (The Africa Report)
BREAKING NEWS: Maitre Artiste Afewerk Tekle dies at 80 (Capital Ethiopia)

East Africans in Oakland: Sharing Ethiopian Music With the World

Many of the 20,000 people from Ethiopia and Eritrea living in the Bay Area call Oakland home. Oakland North is taking a look at the culture and history of the Ethiopian or Eritrean community in Oakland with “East Africans in Oakland” a series of profiles on everyday people living in the city. (Photo: Musician Elias Negash in his home studio in the Oakland hills)

Oakland North

By Ryan Phillips

The plan was for Elias Negash to live in the U.S. for a just a couple of years, get a degree, and then return home to Ethiopia. But as he says now, “Things happen. You never know what life is going to throw at you.”

Negash never returned to live in Ethiopia, and instead has lived in this country— mostly in the East Bay—for more than 40 years. Negash is a member of the jazz and world music group The Retroz Band, as well as a solo recording artist who has put out five of his own albums he recorded at his home studio. His talent as a piano and keyboard player helped him travel all over the world to perform and play in influential and popular jazz and reggae groups. It’s how he met musical legends like Bob Marley, and also, by chance, how he met his own wife. While Negash’s music is well known to jazz and African music aficionados in the US, it is also popular in his native country—it’s played at hotels around Ethiopian and on Ethiopian airlines. He owns a spacious home in the Oakland Hills with a swimming pool and a recording studio he built.

“Music is what makes me happy and I know it makes other people happy,” Negash says. “I just really love it.”

Read the rest of the story by Ryan Phillips at Oakland North.

Related:
East Africans in Oakland: A love and devotion to Ethiopian food (Oakland North)
A Conversation With Elias Negash About His New CD “Jazzed Up” (TADIAS)
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Celebrating Women’s History Month 2012: Tadias Interview With Model Maya Gate Haile

Maya Gate Haile is an Ethiopian model and philanthropist based in New York City. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tseday Alehegn

Published: Thursday, March 29, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Our next feature for Women’s History Month is model and philanthropist Maya Gate Haile. Maya is signed with Elite New York and Los Angeles, and has worked with Ford Model (Chicago & Miami), IMG (Paris), and Zero Management Model (South Africa). She was born in Ethiopia, grew up in Holland and speaks four languages (English, Dutch, Amharic, and Guragena). She currently resides in Harlem, New York with her husband Chef Marcus Samuelsson. In addition to fashion & modeling, Maya’s personal interests include photography and learning about diverse cultures. “I believe it enriches people’s lives and everyone should embrace the best part of different cultures to create your own culture without forgetting your original one,” she says.

Maya serves on the steering committee for UNICEF’s Next Generation and focuses on reducing child mortality and improving the lives of children through education, engagement and advocacy work. Maya is also involved with 10×10, a feature film and social action campaign developed by ABC news journalists to empower girls in developing nations by providing access to education.

In 2011, Maya launched ‘Ethiopia’s Next Number One Model,’ an initiative to provide Ethiopian women with support and resources to gain access to international modeling opportunities. Maya serves as host of the program where the winning contestant receives a 3-year contract with a top international modeling agency as well as travel opportunities to network with high-fashion designers. Maya has been quoted as saying “Modeling is not a destination, it’s a start.” Her work both in the fashion industry as well as her outreach with youth is a testament of her desire to uplift and inspire the next generation.

“What I love about my job the most is working with creative people,” Maya tells Tadias. “I work and learn at the same time, and meet new people every day.” Her role models are “the women of Ethiopia, who work hard everyday to make their parents and family proud.”

Reflecting on her volunteer and charity work Maya says: “Working and being a model is glamourous and it’s been so great, but what’s next? Helping people. My family did that and they are still doing it, and when you get so much love and you see how people care you just want to give back to your people.”

To Tadias readers Maya says: “Dream big. Be positive. Take chances. Be mindful of your day. Respect yourself and you will respect others.”

Stay tuned for more highlights celebrating Ethiopian women role models and change agents.

Related Women’s History Month Stories:
Interview with Birtukan Midekssa
Interview with Artist Julie Mehretu
Interview with Nini Legesse
Interview with Sahra Mellesse
Interview with Lydia Gobena
Interview with Author Maaza Mengiste
Interview with Grammy-nominated singer Wayna
Interview with Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu
Interview with Journalist Fanna Haile-Selassie
Interview with Dr. Mehret Mandefro
New Book Highlights Stories of 70 Accomplished Ethiopian Women (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

Spotlight on Sahra Mellesse

New York-born Sahra Mellesse is an actress based in Los Angeles (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tigist Selam | Art Talk

Updated: Sunday, March 25, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – As part of our Women’s History Month series, we spotlight Sahra Mellesse, an emerging actress based in Los Angeles. Sahra’s first major screen role was in the feature film Pariah – a contemporary drama about a Brooklyn teenager juggling conflicting identities. Pariah was released last December by Focus Features and was an official selection at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. Sahra is also a series regular on Speed Racer for the Nicktoons Network, and has appeared in guest roles on Law & Order. Having studied screenwriting at UCLA, Sahra has developed a television series pilot in which she plans to star.

Belwo is our Q & A with Sahra Mellesse.

TADIAS: What would you like to share about yourself with Tadias readers?

Sahra Mellesse: I was born and raised in the South Bronx, New York City to an Ethiopian father and a Ugandan mother. Growing up in New York City gave me access to groups of friends who are as ethnically and ethically diverse as Home Depot’s paint selection. It’s allowed me to interact with and connect to so many different types of people. But I’ve also been hindered by it in the sense that Hollywood isn’t as open minded as I am. My goal as a filmmaker is to expand the images of minorities in general, so that audiences aren’t just limited to the same stereotypical image of each group. I want to make visible the variety of images that I grew up with. No entire group of people is the same. And I want to explore that. There are so many people, and ideas unrepresented or under-represented on screen. So I’m working to bring those characters and those stories to light.

TADIAS: What do you most enjoy about acting?

SM: The part of acting that I most enjoy is being able to put myself on a hanger and try on someone else’s life for a little bit. To play a character with any type of authenticity you have to first understand them. And it’s so rare that people get to explore a culture outside of their own or a perspective that differs from theirs. But it’s my job to do that. It’s my job to put my beliefs, my experiences, and my perspective on a shelf, and inhabit someone else’s, so that I can live life through their eyes, within their skin. You learn so much. So every project has been a real growing experience and an education of sorts.

TADIAS: When did you know you wanted to be an actress? Was there a specific event that inspired it?

SM: I believe I was in middle school when I decided I wanted to become an actor. I honestly can’t pinpoint the moment I made the decision. I didn’t have an epiphany or anything. I think it started out with the combination of being a good liar and a class clown. I just liked to entertain. I liked making people laugh. It was fulfilling. The most gratifying feeling for me is creating something that people take with them in their day to day lives.

The other day someone told me they were from West Philly, and I followed with “born and raised, in the playground is where I spent most of my days!” It’s the theme from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. It’s embedded into my psyche. I know whole episodes by heart. I also know the show Friends, verbatim. I have a VCR in my head, and when I need a laugh I just press play. The shows that I grew up with and the movies that I’ve seen have become a part of me. And I take them with me everywhere I go. And my hope is that people will take my performances and my projects with them as well. And maybe one day I can be responsible for someone breaking into song in the middle of a conversation. However, I’d settle for just making someone smile.

TADIAS: In celebration of Women’s History Month, who are your female role models?

SM: The main one would be my Mom. She’s my Mother Theresa. I don’t think there’s enough time in the day to explain why. I actually don’t think there’s enough time in the year. But she’s been really supportive. This isn’t the easiest business to crack into, but she’s always championed me regardless. And apart from being my mom, she’s also a philanthropist. She works for a non-profit organization that grants money to different causes they believe in. She’s a do-gooder!

In terms of role models in Hollywood, I have two. One would be Dee Rees, who wrote and directed Pariah. The amount of courage it took to put her struggle in theaters with the hope of making someone else feel less alone is by-far the bravest act I have ever witnessed. She’s the most genuine and most courageous person I know, hands down. My other role model is Meryl Streep. I’ve been a groupie since Music of the Heart in 1999 and have since seen damn-near everything she’s done. Not only is she talented but she carries herself with such class and such grace. And on top of that, there’s still room in her personality to be undeniably charismatic. I don’t think I’ve ever watched one of her performances or watched her in an interview and said, ‘well, I’m bored.’ Never.

TADIAS: Thank you Sahra and best wishes from all of us Tadias.

Related Women’s History Month Stories:
Interview with Birtukan Midekssa
Interview with Artist Julie Mehretu
Interview With Model Maya Gate Haile
Interview with Nini Legesse
Interview with Lydia Gobena
Interview with Author Maaza Mengiste
Interview with Grammy-nominated singer Wayna
Interview with Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu
Interview with Journalist Fanna Haile-Selassie
Interview with Dr. Mehret Mandefro
New Book Highlights Stories of 70 Accomplished Ethiopian Women (TADIAS)

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook

Tomas Doncker’s New CD Blends Ethiopian with R&B and Urban Sounds

Tomas Doncker (center) with Selam Woldemariam (left) performing during Doncker's tour launch party on December 1, 2011 in New York. (Photo by Kidane Mariam for Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
Art Talk | Review

Updated: Wednesday, March 7, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Tomas Doncker’s new album entitled Power of the Trinity blends Jazz, R&B, Ethiopian beats, reggae and urban sounds, reflecting the diverse borough where he grew up in Brooklyn, New York. The CD, produced in collaboration with some of the best known Ethiopian musicians, is also a traveling musical featuring dance performers from the United States and Africa.

“The CD is what I like to call a global soul meditation and how I feel that we are all connected,” Doncker said in an interview. “I grew up in Brooklyn NY, in Crown Heights and I attended St. Ann’s school from 1st grade until the 12th grade.” He added: “Crown Heights at that time was a very dangerous neighborhood. Lots of gangs and violence, but we still managed to maintain a sense of community, at least among the families on my block.”

Receiving a scholarship to attend St. Ann’s made it possible for Doncker to meet people from diverse backgrounds and learn about other cultures. “It changed my life and helped to mold me into the artist that I am today,” he said. “My mother was my first role model, and she was a musician as well.”

Doncker said his latest album is inspired by a play named for Emperor Haile Selassie. “I was asked to score a play called Power of the Trinity by NYC Playwright Roland Wolf and in my research I realized that collaborations with this particular group of artists would really capture and enhance the feeling that I was looking for,” Doncker said. “The process of producing this CD and working so closely with these artists was one of the most rewarding artistic experiences of my life.”

Among others, the CD features guitarist Selam Woldermariam, whom Doncker dubs “The Jimi Hendrix of Ethiopia.”

“I call him the Jimi Hendrix of Ethiopia because Americans understand what I am talking about that he’s got some unique guitar talent,” Doncker said.

The following interview was taped follwing his CD release and tour launch party last December.

Watch:

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Alitash Kebede on Romare Bearden’s 100th Birthday Exhibition at Macy’s

Romare Bearden, who died in 1988 at the age of 76, was an African American artist and writer. (Photo: Romare Bearden, The Calabash, collage, 1970, Library of Congress)

Tadias Magazine
Art Talk | By Tadias Staff

Published: Wednesday, February 22, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – For Black History month last week, Macy’s held a series of in-store celebrations that honored the legacy of the distinguished African American artist Romare Bearden. Window displays of paintings by Bearden, as well as other artists, were featured in New York, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, and San Francisco. The week-long events included an opening reception, children’s activities, live music, cooking demonstrations featuring Bearden’s favorite recipes, and a celebration of the artist’s 100th birthday if he were alive.

The California-based Alitash Kebede Gallery provided several of the works exhibited at Macy’s Los Angeles and San Francisco stores. “I was delighted when I was asked by the Bearden Foundation to be a part of the Celebration,” gallery owner Alitash Kebede said in a recent interview with Tadias Magazine. “Romare Bearden along with the pioneer Ethiopian artist Skunder Boghossian was an inspiration for my venture into the art world.”

Alitash, who was born and raised in Ethiopia, recalled that when she first encountered one of Bearden’s most famous series, Prevalence of Ritual, in the 1970s, she had no idea who he was. “I certainly didn’t know that he was a celebrated American artist,” she said, reflecting on Bearden’s work. “I also had no idea that one day I would end up being in the art business because of him.”

“Life works mysteriously,” Alitash said. “The 100th birthday celebration happens to fall in 2012, which happens to be the 30th anniversary of my art business.” She added: “It is in 1982, not knowing how long it would last, that I started my art venture out of my West Hollywood apartment showing the work of Romare Bearden.”

Four years later, Bearden’s friend, the artist Herbert Gentry introduced Alitash to Bearden. “He took me to his studio in Long Island City and there I thought I was in heaven,” she said. “It is when I met Bearden, the artist who inspired me, that I decided that I was destined to be an art dealer.”

Alitash continued: “I feel so fortunate to be associated with one of the most innovative artists of the 20th century, and someone I’m privileged to call my friend,” she said. “Not only was he a master of the collage medium, he was also an author, a songwriter and had a wide range of scholarly interests in performing arts, history, literature and world art, which highly informed and inspired his work.” She added: “He was also known as one of the most generous people in the art world who helped many artists personally and through institutions that he co-founded, such as the Studio Museum in Harlem. He has certainly helped me, in more ways than one; and I will forever be indebted to him.”

Related:
Macy’s Celebrates The Romare Bearden Centennial (Macys.com)
The Romare Bearden Foundation

The exhibition “Romare Bearden: Southern Recollections” will open at the Newark Museum, on May 23, 2012. “The Bearden Project” is presently at the Studio Museum in Harlem. This and other exhibitions are all part of the 100th Birthday Celebration.

Photo credit: Alitash Kebede by Lily Kebede at Alitash gallery.

Two Generations of Ethiopian Filmmaking

AllAfrica's Genet Lakew and Rahwa Meharena asked three women - Salem Mekuria (top left), Rahel Zegeye (top right) and Sosena Solomon (bottom left) - to share their stories. They represent two generations of Ethiopian documentary filmmaking.

AllAfrica.com | Women Filmmakers Tell Their Stories

Documentary filmmaking holds a special place in the history of African women’s cinema. In 1972, Senegalese filmmaker Safi Faye became the first sub-Saharan African woman to make a commercially distributed feature film when she directed “Kaddu Beykat”. The film, a mixture of fiction and documentary, depicts the economic problems suffered by Senegalese village farmers because of agriculture policies that Faye says rely on an outdated, colonial system of groundnut monoculture. Faye would go on to direct several documentaries often focused on rural life in her native Senegal.

African women who have taken documentary filmmaking to new levels come from across the continent and handle a wide range of topics. The films show an Africa that is not often seen, according to Beti Ellerson, director of the Center for the Study and Research of African Women in Cinema. Ellerson, who teaches courses in African studies, visual culture and women studies in the Washington, DC, area, is also the producer of a 2002 documentary, “Sisters of the Screen: African Women in the Cinema.”

Much has changed since Faye’s early Senegalese films. The emergence of the Internet, social media and crowd-funding platforms such as Kickstarter now offer a new generation of African women documentary filmmakers the tools to realize their visions. To learn of the challenges and opportunities facing African women filmmakers, AllAfrica’s Genet Lakew and Rahwa Meharena asked three women – Salem Mekuria, Rahel Zegeye and Sosena Solomon – to share their stories. They represent two generations of Ethiopian documentary filmmaking.

Read more at AllAfrica.com.

African Film Festival at Schomburg Center

The Black History Month program at the Schomburg Center in New York on Thursday, February 23 will honor the two-year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti with a preview of "Broken Stones," a feature-length documentary about self-recovery after the tragic Haiti quake in 2010. (Photo: A film still from the movie 'Broken Stones')

Tadias Magazine
Events News | Black History Month

Updated: Monday, February 20, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – As part of its annual Black History Month film screening, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in conjunction with the African Film Festival, Inc., is featuring a new documentary by award-winning Haitian film director Guetty Felin-Cohen. The film, Broken Stones, recounts the tragic earthquake two years ago while Haitians express their concerns and impatience with the reconstruction process as well as their aspirations for the country of their dreams.

(Photo: Writer & Director Guetty Felin-Cohen. Credit: Bellemoon Productions)

“I am a Haitian-American filmmaker who has shared her life between America, Haiti and France,” Felin said in announcing the film. “My sensibility, vision and cinematic language have been highly influenced and shaped by my life experience in all three countries.” She added: “I fell in love with cinema at a very early age at the drive-ins in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The ‘electric shadows’ on that glowing screen were a stark contrast to our realities and yet they deeply connected us to the outside world. Cinema, for me, became my own little sanctuary, my personal way of filling those chasms that were wedged by an insidious political system. I began seeing my parents and the adults around me like characters in a film that I was incessantly writing and directing.”

Today after several years in the business, and after becoming a mother, Felin says film-making fully defines her identity. “Cinema is how I engage the world around me, how I denounce social and political injustice, how I explore haunting themes such as memory, exile, foreignness, and the unending search for home, and also how I interconnect our common global humanities,” she wrote.

The special preview screening of Guetty Felin’s Broken Stones will take place on Thursday, February 23, 2012, 7 – 9 p.m., at the Schomburg Center in Harlem, followed by a panel discussion with the filmmaker and special guests.

If You Go:
The event is free and open to the public.
For registration, visit www.schomburgcenter.eventbrite.com or call (212) 491-2040.
For more information, go to www.africanfilmny.org or call (212) 352-1720.

Watch the trailer:

A Conversation With Elias Negash About His New CD “Jazzed Up”

Elias Negash, second from left, is the leader of Retroz Band - a jazz ensemble based in the Bay Area. Members of the group, left to right, are: Anthony Lincoln, Lead vocals & Tenor Sax, Elias Negash, Piano, Keyboards & Vocals, Louie Moon Robinson, L & R. Guitar & Vocals, Mark Williams, Up.& E. Bass, Bob Marshall, Drums. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
Art Talk | By Tadias Staff

Updated: Thursday, February 16, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – The latest CD by California-based musician Elias Negash, whose songwriting combines Ethiopian music with international influences, is entitled Jazzed Up. “It is a reflection of the various dynamic genres incorporated into the music,” Elias said in a recent interview with Tadias Magazine. “Ethio-smooth is included along with R&B, Reggae and Salsa.” He added: ” In so doing, the music has been refreshed and jazzed up. On this CD I am using musicians that are very good friends of mine. The five-piece group have played varying styles of music in the past, but currently we are focusing on a fusion of Jazz, Ethio- Jazz, Rhythm & Blues and other world music. These are the musicians I will be traveling with for years to come. We are called the ‘The Retroz Band.’”

Elias, who was born in Ethiopia and moved to the United States in 1971, has a long resume in the music industry. He was one of the pioneering figures in the Reggae and African music scenes in Northern California during the 1970s. He performed with groups such as Obeah, Axum, Caribbean All Stars and the Rastafarians. After a brief stint in Los Angeles working on the Royal Princess Cruise ship in the 1980s, Elias appeared on a sound track for the television movie Glitz and also performed in the TV series Murder She Wrote.

Elias now owns and operates SophEl Recordings, a music studio located in Oakland Hills, California that opened in September 2000. He says he enjoys spending time in this quite, residential neighborhood. “I often work with fellow music producer Gordon Brislawn, who was iTunes’ first call for 42 of iTunes front-page exclusives,” he said. “We have all the latest equipments to make any music project number one.”


Elias Negash at a recording session in Berkeley, CA. (Courtesy photo)

Regarding his childhood in Ethiopia Elias said: “I was born in Addis Ababa and grew up in a very big house in ‘Riche’ on the road to Debre Zeit. The house belonged to my grandfather. A couple of years before St. Joseph school was established I went to German School – Deutsche Schule – kindergarten in Addis Ababa for a year, then to Nativity Catholic Cathedral School for my first grade. And when St. Joseph school opened in 1960, I was transferred to second grade to persue my elementary and high school education.”

After completing high school Elias moved to New York with his uncle who was a student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “Living in upstate New York for almost two years at a young age was a very cold experience,” he said. “My brother was living in Northern California at the time, and so he would tell me how the weather was so similar to our motherland. That really convinced me to move to California.”

Discussing his favorite musicians, Elias said his musical taste and influences are wide-ranging. “As far as Ethiopian musicians are concerned I like Mulatu Astatke for being the father of Ethio Jazz,” he said. “And Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru’s Classic piano solo album. Among male vocalists I listen to Tilahun Gessesse, Mahamoud Ahmed and Girma Beyene.” He continued: “Non-Ethiopians would be Ray Charles, Bob Marley, pianist Ramsey Lewis Ahmad Jamal, Booker T & The MG’s, Bill Evens, Jimmy Smith, Earl Garner and Oscar Peterson.”

Returning to the topic of his latest album “it reflects an experience of dialing up any baseline to a positive atmosphere,” Elias said. “It is my hope that listeners feel jazzed up.”

You can learn more about the artist at www.eliasnegash.com.
To listen to and order the CD visit: www.cdbaby.com.

NYU Black History Month Exhibit: Time, History and Memory

The Black History Month exhibition A "CPT: Time, History and Memory", curated by Keith Miller and Salome Asega, will be held Feb 6-24 , 2012. The show includes nine images taken by Chester Higgins, Jr. along the River Nile in Ethiopia. (Photo: © Chester Higgins Jr. Ethiopia, 2007. Borja Woman inside a Temple)

Tadias Magazine
Art Talk

Feb 6-24 , 2012 | The Gallatin Galleries

New York – As elements of experience both History and Time seem at once ever present and invisible. So too, Memory, whether collective or personal, has the elusive quality of being unique, real and abstract all at once. In this way Time, History and Memory become modes of communication as much as means of experience. As communication, they are perhaps a common language, but they can also be a private language, a language of communion, understanding and unity. A language spoken, a memory shared. In trying to touch upon this theme of the uniqueness of language and of the experience of history, CPT: Time, History and Memory proposes a dialogue on the nature of this communication, and finally, this engagement with history and memory.

The artists:
Deborah Willis, Stephanie Dinkins, Brett Cook, Hank Willis Thomas, Sonia Louise Davis, Shani Peters, Jamel Shabazz, Chester Higgins, Sheila Pree Bright, Michael Forbes, Tahir Hemphill, Daniel Dawson

If You Go:
The Gallatin Galleries
1 Washington Place @ Broadway
www.gallatingalleries.com

Skoto Gallery’s 20th Anniversary Exhibition

Ethiopian-born artist Etiyé Dimma Poulsen, who lives and works in Belgium, is one of the artists whose work is featured at Skoto Gallery's 20th Anniversary Exhibition in New York scheduled from January 26th to February 25, 2012 (Photo: Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
Art Talk

Updated: Monday, January 23, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – In the heart of Chelsea, one of the centers of the New York art world, lays a gem for African art lovers. Skoto Gallery that opened in 1992 is one of the first contemporary African art galleries in the United States focusing on a mix of artists from the continent and the Diaspora.

Since its inaugural exhibition two decades ago – curated by jazz icon Ornet Coleman and held at its previous location in SoHo – the gallery has mounted memorable shows highlighting artists hailing from several African countries including Ethiopia, Sudan, Ghana, Nigeria, Egypt, Cameroon, and Senegal.

In a recent press release Skoto Gallery announced that it is preparing to host its 20th Anniversary Exhibition this week featuring works by at least seventeen contemporary artists including Ethiopians Etiye Dimma Poulsen, Wosene Kosrof, and Tesfaye Tessema.

(Photo: Inaugural exhibition at Skoto Gallery, 1992)

“It is tempting to talk about Skoto Gallery as a secret treasure of the New York art scene; but doing so brings up a lot of contradictory data,” wrote poet and critic Geoffrey Jacques. “For instance, how does a “secret” survive two decades in a historically tough scene made even tougher by the cultural and economic head winds that have buffeted art, the New York art world, and the world in general in the last few years?” He added: “To say the quality of the work shown at Skoto Gallery during these last twenty years is responsible for its success would be one obvious truth. There is, however, more to it than that. Skoto Gallery performs a vital intervention into the very idea of contemporary art.”

In an interview with Tadias Magazine a few years ago, gallery owner Skoto Aghahowa stressed the importance of having a greater understanding of the creative process, the environment in which artists operate, as well as marketing and communication skills within the African artist community. “A piece of art work retains its value when one strikes a balance between scholarly work and commercial success,” Skoto said. “The most important work of an art dealer is to be familiar with the work of world artists, not just African artists, and to help create a context in which the work can be understood and appreciated.”

Geoffrey Jacques noted: “I remember being so moved by a 1995 exhibition of works by two sculptors that I had to write about them. The pairing was, at first glance, audacious: Tom Otterness, from Kansas, who lived in New York; and Bright Bimpong, from Ghana, who was, at the time, studying in New Jersey. It was the kind of beautiful exhibition we’re now used to seeing at Skoto Gallery.”

If You Go:
Skoto Gallery
20th Anniversary Exhibition
January 26th – February 25 , 2012
Reception: Thursday, January 26th, 6-8pm
529 West 20th Street, 5thFL
New York, NY 10011
www.skotogallery.com

The Film Oblivion: How Abduction for Marriage Ended in Ethiopia

Oblivion is a feature length narrative film based on a true story about the legal precedent setting court case that helped to outlaw the practice of abduction for marriage in Ethiopia – also referred to as “telefa”.

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – One afternoon in 1997, in a small, rural village in Arsi, Ethiopia, 14-year-old Aberash Bekele was returning home from school with her friends when a group of horsemen dragged and beat her before abducting her.

“He hit me about the face,” Aberash recounted, speaking about the 29-year-old farmer who led the abduction. “I nearly lost consciousness. He was such a huge man, I couldn’t push him away. Then he forced my legs apart. He beat me senseless and took my virginity.”

As horrifying as it may sound, the man was not doing anything illegal. He was participating in a centuries old tradition called Telefa, which permited men to abduct young girls for marriage.

Aberash found a kalashnikov in a room where she was being held, grabbed the weapon and attempted to run away. A chase ensued, and the cornered Aberash shot and killed her assailant; she was arrested and charged with murder.

A group of independent producers and filmmakers in the U.S. have now launched a kickstarter.com campaign to help finance a film about Aberash Bekele’s story entitled Oblivion. The film is a feature length narrative about “the legal precedent-setting court case that outlawed the practice of abduction for marriage in Ethiopia.”

“I don’t think of myself as having killed anyone,” Aberash told the media then. “I could have been killed myself.”

Aberash was represented by the Ethiopian Women’s Lawyers Association (EWLA), then led by Attorney Meaza Ashenafi who won the case for her client arguing self-defense.

“This is an epic story, an engaging and engrossing film about a universal topic,” said Leelai Demoz, an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker who is one of the producers of Oblivion. “I have wanted to do something in Ethiopia for a long time and I have finally found a solid script.”

Crowdfunding by kickstarter is used to gain support for a variety of commercial and social projects. “I am also excited about being engaged through the kickstarter platform not only to raise funds, but also to develop a grassroots audience for this important project,” Leelai added.

You may watch the trailer and contribute to the kickstarter campaign for Oblivion here.

Watch:


Photo of Aberash Bekele via BBC News.

Ten Arts and Entertainment Stories of 2011

21-year-old Abel Tesfaye, a Toronto-based R&B singer, better known by his stage name "The Weeknd," is one of the most talked about international musicians of 2011. He gained popularity last March after releasing his first album, House of Balloons. He is an artist to watch out for in 2012. Watch his video below.

Tadias Magazine
By Tigist Selam

Updated: Monday, January 2, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – As we enter the new year and review last year’s contributions in the area of arts and entertainment, 2011 was a year of new beginnings from comedy, to music and fine arts, which should bode well for 2012.

Below are 10 favorite highlights. Happy New Year!

The Simpsons Eat in Little Ethiopia

I almost fell out of my chair when I watched the Simpsons episode in Little Ethiopia last November. Like many Ethiopians who tweeted and posted the video in social media, I was excited to share something funny that recognized Ethiopian culture – albeit in a respectful way. I laughed at every moment of the segment. Little did we know that the Simpsons (and Hollywood) would make 2011 the year of Gursha. My favorite part is when Bart and Lisa feed each other leftover injera at home and Homer Simpson telling his wife: “Marge, the kids are acting ethnic!” Hilarious! Watch it here, if you haven’t already.

Ethiopia Habtemariam: The New Boss at Motown

In 2011, a young Ethiopian American music executive was appointed as the new head of the legendary Motown label now owned by the Universal Music Group. The company named Ethiopia Habtemariam, 31, Senior Vice President of Universal Motown Records. The promotion makes Ms. Habtemariam one of the most prominent women, as well as one of the most influential blacks in the music industry.

Abel Tesfaye’s Rapid Rise to Fame

My 17-year old cousin introduced me to the new R&B/rapper sensation Abel Tesfaye, a 21-year old Ethiopian artist born in Canada who has taken the music industry by surprise. He exploded into the music scene in spring 2011 after releasing his first nine-song free album, House of Balloons, via the internet. Abel, who goes by his stage name The Weeknd, has already been highlighted by Rolling Stone magazine, MTV News, BET and more. John Norris of MTV has dubbed him “the best musical talent since Michael Jackson.” And his first album, House of Balloons, has been named one of The Best Albums of 2011. But The Guardian wasn’t so enthusiastic. “The singing and songwriting on House of Balloons aren’t especially strong by R&B standards,” noted the UK newspaper. “What’s getting the Weeknd so much attention is [his] command of mood.” While a review by the Frontier Psychiatrist declared that the songs are “brilliant, disturbing, and not safe for work.” As to the lyrics: “So unsafe it should come with a child-proof cap.” Nonetheless, TIME magazine says: “Tesfaye has explored some of the dankest, darkest corners of our world, and thus has crafted some of the most compelling and captivating music for its genre.” There could be no doubt that Abel is a gifted musician and endowed with a soulful voice. He is an artist to watch out for in 2012. The following video is entitled The Knowing, the last track from the House of Balloons album. The mysterious meanings in this futuristic video is open to interpretation but its Ethiopian influence is obvious.

Debo Band & The Fendika Dancers Rock New York

The event held on Thursday, August 11th, 2011 was attended by thousands of people. It was described by The New York Times as “generous, warm, high-spirited real entertainment for a big audience.” The Debo/Fendika collective was the second Ethiopian music ensemble to ever perform at the Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors event, following in the footsteps of Ethiopia’s leading musicians Mahmoud Ahmed, Alemayehu Eshete, and legendary saxophonist Getachew Mekuria, who made a historic appearance here in 2008. Watch TADIAS’ video coverage of the 2011 Lincoln Center Out of Doors concert at the Damrosch Park Bandshell in New York.

Yemane Demissie’s Film on Haile Selassie

The 8th Annual Sheba Film Festival in 2011 featured the New York premiere of Yemane Demissie’s film Twilight Revelations: Episodes in the Life & Times of Emperor Haile Selassie. The screening took place at the Schomburg Center on Thursday, May 26th. The documentary, which features rare archival footage coupled with exclusive interviews and firsthand accounts, takes a fresh look at the mixed legacy of one of the most controversial African leaders in modern history. Check out the trailer here.

Zelalem Woldemariam Wins Focus Features’s Award for Short Films

I am a huge fan of NBC Universal’s Focus Features program and last year they named Ethiopian Filmmaker, Zelalem Woldemariam, as one of the recipients of its 2011 grant for short films from Africa. His upcoming film entitled Adamet (Listen) is about preserving culture. “My film is about an Ethiopian drummer who learns about his identity and traditional music in an unexpected way,” Zelalem said during an interview with Tadias Magazine. “I have always been fascinated by our music and I have wanted to do a film that showcases this rich and colorful part of our culture for a long time.” You can learn more about the self-taught filmmaker at www.zelemanproduction.com.

Music Video: Bole Bole directed by Liya Kebede

Like hip hop, house music is fast becoming a universal language among youth worldwide and so too among Ethiopians. A new music video called Bole Bole, which was staged at Studio 21 in New York and directed by Supermodel Liya Kebede, is getting a lot of buzz online. The lyrics are entertaining.
Click here to watch Bole Bole.

Singer/Songwriter Rachel Brown

Ethiopian-American Singer/Songwriter Rachel Brown is another artist to watch for in 2012. After graduating from Harvard, the up-and-coming musician has been carving a niche for herself both in New York and around the country. With her effortless style, self-confidence and beautiful voice, she is mesmerizing. We look forward to hearing more of her in 2012. Listen to Rachel at rachelbrownmusic.com.

Ezra Wube’s Hisab: The Hustle and Bustle of Addis

I’ve followed Ezra Wube’s work since 2004. I simply can’t take my eyes off some of his paintings. I continue to giggle at his recent short animation film Hisab (stop action animation painted on a single surface canvas). The video tells an urban folklore by bringing to life the sights and sounds inside Addis Ababa’s popular blue-and-white minibus (a cross between a bus and a taxi). The short film’s main characters are the city’s four-legged residents – donkeys, dogs and goats. Watch the video below.

Point Four: New Film Features Rarely Seen White House Photos

Some rarely seen historical images from the Kennedy White House years, with the President and First Lady hosting Emperor Haile Selassie, are part of an upcoming film entitled Point Four — a documentary about Haramaya University (previously known as Alemaya College). Haramaya University is an agricultural technical college that was established in 1956 in Ethiopia as a joint project between the two nations. Watch the trailer here.


The list was updated on Sunday, January 1, 2012 to include Ethiopia Habtemariam.

Music Video Buzz: Bole Bole by Liya Kebede; Tadias by Hahu

Above: Screen grab of footage from Bole Bole music video directed by Liya Kebede - inverted colors.

Tadias Magazine
Art Talk

Published: Monday, December 12, 2011

New York (TADIAS) – Among youth worldwide, hip hop is a universal language, and so too among Ethiopians.

Two new music videos have been getting a lot of buzz lately: The first is called Bole Bole, which was staged at Studio 21 in New York, is directed by Supermodel Liya Kebede.

The second video is made by the Ethiopian hip-hop group Hahu, who have come out with a single entitled ‘Tadias.’

Both videos have positive lyrics combining Amharic and English words with a fusion of Eastern and Western beats and rhythms.

Click here to watch Bole Bole.
Click here to watch Tadias by Hahu.

Artists for Charity’s 5th Annual Art Auction

AFC will hold its annual holiday benefit event on Saturday, December 3 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: A painting of Cherkos up for bid at last year's event by Matt Andrea)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Updated: Monday, November 21, 2011

Washington, DC (TADIAS) – Artists for Charity (AFC) will host its 5th Annual Holiday Art Auction next month in Washington, D.C. The network of artists, volunteers and donors operate a home for HIV positive orphans in Addis Ababa.

“The benefit will be held during World AIDS Week and will feature amazing artwork from local and international artists,” AFC said in a press release. Artwork made by the children at the AFC home will also be featured.

The AFC Children’s Home houses young people infected with HIV, who have lost both their parents. The home provides food, shelter, medical care, school fees and supplies for the children. AFC also has other projects including an Artist-in-Residency program, which allows qualified volunteers to spend up to a year in Ethiopia while sharing their creative talents with AFC children.

“Millions of children around the world are infected with HIV every day and many of them die young, and those who survive struggle to live normal healthy lives” the press release said. “The AFC Holiday Benefit gives everyone a chance to support the cause.”


If You Go:
AFC’s 5th Annual Holiday Benefit & Art Auction
Saturday, December 3, 2011
600 I St. NW Washington, DC 20001.
Advance tickets: $35
Ticktes at the door: $40
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Learn more at Artistforcharity.org

Related:
Photos: 2010 Artists for Charity Fundraiser

Watch: Artists for Charity (AFC) Children’s Home – Their Story

In Memory of Artist Azeb Zekiros: 1950 – 2011

Azeb Zekiros with an unfinished painting of hers in 2008. (Photo: The Women's Resource Group)

Tadias Magazine
Art Talk

Updated: Sunday, November 13, 2011

New York (TADIAS) – Ethiopian-born visual artist Azeb Zekiros, who was one of the most active members of the Diaspora artists community, died suddenly on Monday, November 7th. She was 61 years old.

Sheba Azeb Zekiros left Ethiopia in her early teens and came to the US in 1967. She went to school in California and later attended the Art Students League in New York where she concentrated in drawing and painting. She received an Associate of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from SUNY Empire State College in 2001, and Bachelor of Science degree in Community and Human Services. Azeb completed many credits through evaluation of her prior learning, and translated her knowledge of art and languages into college credit.

She was an employee of the American Association of Retired Persons.

In her artistic career spanning four decades, she has exhibited her works in several venues in the East Coast, including a one woman show at the Milestone Gallery; Black Burn Center, Howard University; Department of Education; Fondo Del Sol; The Meridian House International; Lansburgh’s Cultural Center; and the Harvard Kennedy School. She has lived in England, France, Denmark and Switzerland. In 1986 she was featured as part of the ‘Contemporary African Artists’ show at the United Nations.

In describing a few artists she admires, Azeb highlighted Skunder Boghossian and Julie Mehretu in a comment posted last February. “Julie Mehretu’s paintings are great, her sense of colors, space and time is amazing,” she said. “Even though they have different styles, I have been an admirer of Julie and Skunder’s work.” She added: “As a painter, I get inspired by Julie’s energetic expressions.”

Below are paintings by Azeb Zekiros:


Nubian Woman by Azeb Zekiros, 2007.


New York by Azeb Zekiros.

If You Go:
Funeral Service
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Service: 11:00-1:00
Interment: 1:00-2:00
Reception/Repass: 2:15-4:00
National Funeral Home
7482 Lee Highway
Falls Church, VA 22042
(703) 560-4400

Click here to share your memories or express your condolences.

The Irresistible Meklit Hadero Blends Ethiopia and San Francisco

San Francisco offers a haven to creative talents from around the world and one of the city's newest stars is Ethiopian-born Meklit Hadero, a restless soul who found her voice in the funky Mission district's eclectic arts scene. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Saturday, November 5th, 2011

New York (TADIAS) – In a recent interview with PBS, Ethiopian-American Musician Meklit Hadero contemplated the various meanings that she came across when researching her name. “My father is from the south of Ethiopia and Hadero means milk,” she said. “But once when I was in college I had a friend look up in a Geez-Amharic dictionary. Geez is the ancient language of Ethiopia and Meklit is a Geez word. He looks it up in the dictionary and he said ‘oh, it means one who knows the balance of things.’”

Like the meaning of her name Meklit’s music is a balance of various cultures: American jazz, Ethiopian classics, and sounds from the vibrant San Francisco’s art scene — all held together with her eloquent poetry. Meklit, who left Ethiopia when she was one year old, grew up in New York and graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in Political Science before settling in San Francisco where she currently resides. She has been compared to Billie Holiday, Tracy Chapman and Joni Mitchell. But her creative renditions of the traditional Ethiopian song Abbay Mado is as original as her piece entitled People of Movement, a musical tribute to refugees worldwide.

“At the moment, I’m finishing up two new collaborative albums, both set for release early in 2012 on San Francisco’s Porto Franco Records,” Meklit tells Tadias Magazine. She is currently in Ethiopia. “I came here to inaugurate UN Women’s campaign for gender equity with a free concert at the UN compound in Addis, as well as to perform at and attend the African Leadership Network Conference,” she said. “It’s always wonderful to be in Addis.”

Describing her upcoming albums Meklit said: “The first is with two Arba Minch Collective members and Ethiopian-American Emcees Gabriel Teodros and Burntface. We were all in Ethiopia together in May 2011, where we played in the town square of Harrar, at the foot of the castles in Gondar, and in Addis Ababa. I’ve also got an album coming out with Oakland soul singer Quinn DeVeaux, exploring soul interpretations of indie-rock and art rock songs, and really highlighting the soul roots of that music.”

The Ethiopian-American group’s name is CopperWire and the album is called Earthbound. “It uses concepts of outer space and intergalactic distances to unravel ideas around diaspora, separation, and the longing for home,” she said. “We’re all so excited about how the music turned out.”

Also, last week, it was announced that Meklit will be a 2012 TED Senior Fellow. “I’m so thrilled about that,” she added. “Folks can always keep in touch with me on Facebook and Twitter.”

Watch: “Quick Hits” Highlight of Meklit Hadero’s “Leaving Soon” (PBS/Sound Tracks)

Watch Meklit Hadero Performs “Leaving Soon” on PBS. See more from Sound Tracks.

Watch: “Quick Hits” Interview with Meklit Hadero on PBS (Sound Tracks)

Watch “Quick Hits” Interview with Meklit Hadero on PBS. See more from Sound Tracks.

How Fikru Mariam’s $37,500 Painting Saved 3 Ethiopian Children

Fikru Gebre Mariam at his Addis Ababa home-studio. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, November 3, 2011

New York (TADIAS) – A painting by the prolific Ethiopian artist Fikru G/Mariam was recently sold in the United States for $37,500 to help pay for surgical expenses of three Ethiopian children with severe spine disease. Fikru, who works from his Addis Ababa and Paris-based studios, has exhibited at prestigious European galleries and cultivated an international following.

Fikru first learned about spine disease from an American doctor named Rick Hodes, who has lived and worked in Ethiopia for over 20 years. Dr. Hodes initially arrived in Ethiopia as a relief worker during the 1984 famine and has remained there ever since. He currently serves as Medical Director of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Addis Ababa. His work with severely disabled children, including those with spine diseases, is the subject of the HBO documentary Making the Crooked Straight as well as a book by journalist Marilyn Berger entitled This is a Soul.

Fikru met Dr. Hodes last year at a Thanksgiving dinner in Addis Ababa hosted by mutual friends – a couple from Orlando who are temporarily living in Ethiopia and are collectors of his paintings. “My friends Donald and Barbara Prearson first introduced Dr. Hodes and I at their home,” Fikru told Tadias Magazine. “Rick said he knew about my work from the displays in the house.” He added: “During the dinner Rick told me what he did as a Doctor in Ethiopia, and I was impressed.” Dr. Hodes showed Fikru photos of his spine disease patients. “I can probably say they were the most shocking images I ever saw in my life,” Fikru said of the photographs.

“Spine disease is quite common,” Dr. Hodes said in a recent interview with Tadias. “In America, at least 3% of the population has scoliosis, which is a spinal curvature. There is no data from Ethiopia, but it is quite likely that the rate is at least the same. We also have neuromuscular disease such as cerebral palsy and old polio leading to scoliosis.” Dr. Hodes said he receives at least 200 new spine patients a year. About two-third have scoliosis, which causes an S-shaped spine, and one-third have Pott’s Disease, which is tuberculosis of the spine. Without the possibility of spine surgery, Ethiopian patients often have progressive disease which may lead to paralysis and breathing difficulties. Many of Dr. Hodes’ patients have lost well over 50% of their lung function due to the lungs being compressed by twisted spines. “I work closely with an organization called FOCOS and raise money to send my patients to them in Accra, Ghana for surgery,” Dr Hodes said. “It costs me about $18,000 per surgery.” He added: “My overall goal is to [build] a hospital in Ethiopia where this surgery can be done, and to train Ethiopians to do these operations.”

The conversation with Dr. Hodes and the photos lingered in Fikru’s head long after the dinner. “It was painful to watch and the images stuck in my mind,” Fikru said. “I felt shame that I was not doing enough to help my people who desperately need my help while foreigners are doing a great job to save Ethiopian lives.” He added: “When I left the Prearson’s home that night I told Rick I will do something to help and contribute to save the children.”

“Weeks later when Mr. Noel Cunningham of The Cunningham Foundation came to Addis from Denver, I invited him to my studio and told him my plan to donate my painting to fund the surgeries,” Fikru continued. “I had estimated it to be around $24,000 but I thought they could get a better price for it at an auction.”

“We greatly appreciate your talent and your generosity in donating this painting,” Noel Cunningham, President of the Cunningham Foundation, said in a letter to Fikru. “In fact, your painting has raised money to provide complete medical and surgical care to 3 Ethiopian youth with spine disease.”

Dr. Hodes remembers meeting Fikru at the Thanksgiving dinner. “Fikru was very taken by the strength and the difficulties of life of my spine patients.” he said. “He has since met several of them, and he had a very good idea of the great difficulties they have. He would call me at least twice a week.”

Regarding the painting, Fikru said he came up with the concept a year ago at his Addis home-studio, which he designed.

“I talked to Rick Hodes this morning and he told me that the children will go abroad for surgery on Sunday November 6,” he said. “I will go to Bole airport to see them off.”


Fikru G/Mariam and Noel Cunningham with the painting “Dream Hunters”, which sold at an auction in Denver for $37,500 to help pay for medical expenses of three Ethiopian children with severe spine disease. (Courtesy photo)


The artist’s home-studio in Addis Ababa. (Courtesy photo)


Fikru G/Mariam designed and built his residence in Ethiopia, which also houses the studio. (Courtesy photo).
—-
You can learn more about the artist on his website at www.fikru.fr.
Click here to learn more about Dr. Rick Hodes.
Click here to read about The Cunningham Foundation.

Zelalem Woldemariam Wins Focus Features’s Award for Short Films

Zelalem Woldemariam, pictured above in 2010 in Spain, is one of the winners of the 2011 Focus Feature’s Africa First program for short films. (Courtesy Photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2011

New York (TADIAS) – NBC Universal’s Focus Features has named Ethiopian Filmmaker, Zelalem Woldemariam, as one of the recipients of its 2011 grant for short films from Africa.

Earlier last month, CEO of Focus Feature’s Africa First program, James Schamus, announced that their initiative exclusively for emerging filmmakers from Africa has awarded five artists $10,000 apiece. The grant is designed to help finance the production of a short film by each filmmaker.

“My film is about an Ethiopian drummer who learns about his identity and traditional music in an unexpected way,” Zelalem said in a recent interview with Tadias Magazine. Speaking about his film entitled Adamet (Listen), Zelalem adds: “I have always been fascinated by our music and I have wanted to do a film that showcases this rich and colorful part of our culture for a long time.”

The other winners include Ms. Oshosheni Hiveluah of Namibia, Mr. Cedric Ido of Burkina Faso, Mr. Mark Middlewick of South Africa and Ms. Akosua Adoma Owusu of Ghana.

According to the motion picture company, the winning filmmakers will also visit New York City this month for a weekend to meet each other as well as Mr. Schamus and President of Focus Features production Jeb Brody.

“I’m continually impressed by the range of great young artists we meet through Africa First,” Mr. Schamus said in a statement. “Each filmmaker has a distinctive vision and voice, and I look forward to learning from them at our summit.”

Zelalem is a self-taught filmmaker, born and raised in Addis Ababa. In 2005, he founded Zeleman Production, which now employes twenty-five people and has become one of Addis’ go-to studios for creating various media products. Zelalem’s first international recognition came in 2010 when his film called Lezare (For Today), a 12 minute movie which explores the link between environmental degradation and poverty, won the “Best Short Film Youth Jury Award” at the 7th African Film Festival in Spain.

Producer Kisha Cameron-Dingle, who serves as program director for the Africa First program, said, “We are particularly proud of the diversity and ambition in this year’s solid group, with new storytellers coming from several countries contributing to the program for the first time.”

“This means a lot for me and my Ethiopian filmmaker colleagues,” Zelalem said. “To be recognized by a Hollywood studio is a big deal.” He added: “Personally I hope it will open a lot of doors.”

You can learn more about Focus Features’ Africa First program at focusfeatures.com.

Related:
African Film Festival NY Features Zelalem Woldemariam’s “Lezare” (TADIAS)

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Brooklyn to Ethiopia: Doncker, Gigi, Selam, Laswell, and more

Guitarist Selam Woldemariam (left), former member of legendary Ethiopian bands, Ibex and Roha, with New Yorker Tomas Doncker (front) performing at the City Winery in Manhattan last year. (Courtesy photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Sunday, October 9, 2011

New York (TADIAS) – Brooklyn based musician Tomas Doncker’s new album entitled Power of the Trinity, which features well-known artists hailing from Ethiopia including Gigi and legendary guitarist Selam Seyoum Woldemariam, is as much a tribute to Ethiopia and its history as it is a soulful blend of R&B, spoken word and global urban sounds, reflecting the culturally eclectic neighborhood where he grew up. The CD also features Grammy award winning producer and bassist Bill Laswell, Pulitzer Prize winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa, and Electro-dub specialist Dr. Israel as well as reggae artist Tsegaye Selassie.

“Musically speaking, being able to work with Bill Laswell and Selam Woldermariam was like taking a journey into the heart and soul of Ethiopian groove, ” Tomas Doncker said in a recent interview with Tadias Magazine. Bill Laswell was the producer of Gigi’s 2001 album, which propelled the vocalist to worldwide acclaim. Selam Woldermariam, also known as Selamino, was a member of the storied Ibex and Roha bands.

According to Tomas, a theater production about Emperor Haile Selassie and his role during World War II, following the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, gave impetus to his new album. The drama was never staged but he said it inspired him to learn more about the Emperor. “I was asked to score a play called Power of the Trinity by New York Playwright Roland Wolf and in my research I realized that collaborations with this particular group of artists would really capture and enhance the feeling that I was looking for,” Tomas said. “It was the most rewarding artistic experience of my life.”

Tomas said he fell in love with Selam Woldermariam’s work long before he met the guitarist, whom he said he discovered through one of the earliest editions of the Ethiopiques series – number seven – which spotlighted the award-winning singer Mahmoud Ahmed and the historical band Ibex.

“Tomas Doncker had this CD and was searching for musicians that played with Ibex in those days,” Selam told Tadias. “A common friend knew where I resided and told Tomas about it, that’s how we connected.”

The name of the album, Power of the Trinity, is the English translation of Emperor Haile Selassie’s name. The CD cover shows a globe embedded with a giant map of Africa filled with a photo collage of the late emperor. Tomas Doncker’s own name is written using a combination of English and Geez alphabets. “Graphic Designer Michael Luciano and I worked very closely on this,” Tomas said. “We wanted to highlight Ethiopia as being one of the most important places in world history, perhaps even the cradle of civilization. You can’t do that without making H.I.M. a focal point.”

Selam, who majored in History at Addis Ababa University and is currently researching “the music history of the Horn of Africa,” says the collaborative project is more than a nod to the former king. “As we all know Ethiopian music is now a fashion throughout the world,” he said. “It is not surprising to see bands whose members are mainly western musicians playing Ethiopian music repertory of the 60s and 70s.” He adds: “This phenomenon was partly the result of the distribution of Ethiopiques CD series, produced by a good friend, Francis Falceto. And, fortunately, I was part of the group known as ‘Ibex’ that performed during the early 70s at Ras Hotel. It included the renowned performer Mahmoud Ahmed and we recorded his Ere Mela Mela on LP which later became Ethiopiques number 7 in 1989.”

For Tomas, it is also about crossing cultural boundaries. “I grew up in Brooklyn NY, in Crown Heights” he said. “I attended St. Ann’s school from 1st grade until the 12th grade. Crown Heights at that time was a very dangerous neighborhood. Lots of gangs and violence, but we still managed to maintain a sense of community, at least among the families on my block. Receiving a scholarship to attend St. Ann’s made it possible for me to meet people and learn about other cultures. It changed my life and helped to mold me into the artist that I am today.”


Tomas Doncker and Selam Woldemariam at the Blue Note in NYC on April 12, 2010. (Photo courtesy of Selam Woldemariam)

Regarding his new album Tomas said: “It is what I like to call a global soul meditation about Ethiopia and how I feel that we are all connected.”

Selam, who also served as a Production Consultant, worked on the Amharic translations for most of the compositions on the album. He described the genre of the new CD saying: “It is mainly a fusion work of Tomas’ compositions with Ethiopian rhythm and sounds. He uses the slow and fast Chik-chika rhythms on most of his compositions. This rhythm is extensively used in most Ethiopian music. Moreover, most horn sections on some of the tunes resemble the unique sound of Ibex Band from the Ethiopiques number seven volume. Therefore, I think we can safely label the new album as ‘global soul,’ a fusion of western R&B and African and Ethiopian music.”

Selam adds: “I would like to thank Tomas for dedicating his song, Seven Sons, in memory of Ibex.”

Thomas Doncker’s “Power of the Trinity” is now available for purchase on I tunes. You can learn more about the artist at www.tomasdoncker.net.

Watch: Tomas Doncker introduces guitar hero Selam Woldemariam at the Blue Note in NYC

Watch: Inside Tomas Doncker’s “Power of The Trinity Project”

Tadias Q & A With Photographer Michael Tsegaye: Addis Ababa’s Red Light District

One of the images from a photography series by Michael Tsegaye called "Working Girls." It was taken in the Sebategna area of Addis Ababa. (© Michael Tsegaye)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Friday, September 16, 2011

New York (TADIAS) – Addis Ababa does not have a Red Light District per se, but the Sebategna area in Merkato comes close to it. Photographer Michael Tsegaye’s intimate portraits of prostitues from this neighborhood, entitled Working girls II, is currently showing at a highly-regarded international exhibition in Paris dedicated to non-Western photography. He is one of 46 contemporary photographers from 29 countries whose work is on display through November 11th, 2011 at the 3rd edition of the Photoquai Biennale exhibition of world images organized by the musée du Quai Branly.

“I wanted to share what I saw, but ultimately everyone will have their own response to it,” Michael Tsegaye, who was born and raised in Addis Ababa, said in a recent interview with Tadias Magazine. “A lot of the women, as well as the customers, come from many different parts of the country, since it’s close to the central bus stop. This creates an interesting social dynamic.”

And how did he gain the women’s confidence for such a close-up look at their lives? “I spent about two weeks with them, spending the day in the room where they live,” he said. “The first three days were very quiet, until they got used to me. We spent a lot of time talking, eating meals together, drinking tea and coffee.”

Below is our Q & A with photographer Michael Tsegaye:


TADIAS: What prompted you to focus on this issue?


Michael Tsegaye

Michael Tsegaye: I had taken photographs of prostitutes in Sodo a long time ago, but then wanted to continue the project. I decided to try it in Addis Ababa since it is a very sensitive issue.

TADIAS: What do you want people to take away from these images?

MT: Whatever they’d like. I wanted to share what I saw, but ultimately, everyone will have their own response to it.

TADIAS: You say on your website that as a photographer you don’t want to be “pigeonholed.” What do you mean by that?

MT: It’s common for people in the art world to first define you as an Ethiopian or an African artist, as opposed to just an artist. Once you are labeled in that way, you are then easily exotified. You are not given equal stature with other international artists – -the Europeans, Americans etc. Your work is not judged on its artistic merit, or the idea it represents, but rather which continent it comes from.

TADIAS: How did you get into photography?

MT: It was by accident. I used go to the Geothe Cultural Center to use the library, and one day I came across a photography workshop that was being led by a German photographer called Ralf Becker. I sat in on the class, and he thought I was a student. Later, I walked up to him to ask questions and we started a conversation. He asked me to join the class, and I did. We are still good friends to this day. He bought me my first camera, a Minolta analog.

TADIAS: What is good photography?

MT: There is a quote by a Frenchman called Jacques Leenhardt. It says: “Photography is best when it emulates poetry”, portraying “… not only the complex and problematic reality of the outside world, but also the way a person’s eye has seen it. It shows a person’s self-expression, a person becoming the poet we all have within us…” I think this is a very true statement.

TADIAS: Do you have a favorite photographer?

MT: I dont have a favorite photographer, but I have favorite painters, like Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Repin. I like Vermeer and Rembrandt because they make good use of light, while Repin’s composition is a great example of Russian painting.

TADIAS: We understand that you too started out studying painting but later developed an allergy to oil paint? Can you tell us more about that and how it has impacted your artistic expression?

MT: Over time, the hours I had spent in the studio breathing in fumes from the oil paints made me very sick, which forced me to give up painting. I then switched to photography as my main medium of expression. In terms of its effect on my overall artistic expression, as a whole, painting and photography are very different disciplines. With painting, I spent a lot of time in the studio. But photography forces you to interact with people, to explore the country and what is around you. From painting, I learned how to use light and composition in my photographs, so it has made learning photography much easier for me. I try to photograph with a painter’s eye.

TADIAS: Regarding the photos in your latest exhibition, is there a reason why you selected the Sebategna area in Merkato?

MT: Yes. Sebategna is an area heavily populated with commercial sex workers. Since there are so many, over time the area has formed its own subculture. In Sebategna, you will find a diverse range of prostitutes: from the very inexpensive, to the more costly. They are also diverse in age as well. A lot of the women, as well as the customers, come from many different parts of the country, since it’s close to the central bus stop. This creates an interesting social dynamic.

TADIAS: How did you gain the girls’ confidence?

MT: I spent about two weeks with them, spending the day in the room where they live. The first three days were very quiet, until they got used to me. We spent a lot of time talking, eating meals together, drinking tea and coffee.

TADIAS: Any parting words?

MT: I’d just like to thank Tadias Magazine and urge the Tadias audience to continue supporting Ethiopian arts.

TADIAS: Thank you and wishing you continued success.

MT: Thank you very much.

Learn more about Michael Tsegaye at: www.michaeltsegaye.com.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

Tadias TV: Ethiopian Dance & Live Music at Lincoln Center Out of Doors

Unforgettable performance by the Debo/Fendika collective on Thursday, August 11th in New York at the 41st annual Lincoln center summer music festival — one of the longest-running, free, outdoor festivals in the United States. (Photo by Tsedey Aragie)

Tadias Magazine
By Tigist Selam

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New York (Tadias) – The following is our video coverage of the 2011 Lincoln Center Out of Doors concert at the Damrosch Park Bandshell in New York, which also featured Debo band and special guest Fendika. We had the opportunity to interview the band members, as well as the Director of Public Programming for Lincoln Center. The event was attended by thousands of people. It was described by The New York Times as “generous, warm, high-spirited real entertainment for a big audience. It was a delight to watch them.” The Debo/Fendika collective became only the second Ethiopian music ensemble to perform at the Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors event, following in the footsteps of Ethiopia’s leading musicians Mahmoud Ahmed, Alemayehu Eshete, and legendary saxophonist Getachew Mekuria, who made a historic appearance here in 2008.

Watch:

Photos: Debo & Fendika New York Concert

Debo band was joined by the Ethiopian traditional dance and music troupe, Fendika in New York on Thursday, August 11th for an outdoors performance at the Lincoln Center. (Photo by Tadias Magazine)

Tadias Magazine
By Tigist Selam

Updated: Sunday, August 14, 2011

New York (Tadias) – Debo band and special guest Fendika staged a memorable concert on Thursday, August 11th, in New York at the 41st annual Lincoln center summer music festival — one of the longest-running, free, outdoor festivals in the United States.

The Debo/Fendika collective became only the second Ethiopian music ensemble to perform at the Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors event, following in the footsteps of Ethiopia’s leading musicians Mahmoud Ahmed, Alemayehu Eshete, and legendary saxophonist Getachew Mekuria, who made a historic appearance here in 2008.

“There were an estimated 4,500 people in attendance,” Marian Skokan, the event’s Senior Publicity Manager, told Tadias Magazine.

As The New York Times put it: “At the end of a day of perfect New York summer weather on Thursday, the mood established by the Lincoln Center Out of Doors two-part event of dance and live music at the Damrosch Park Bandshell was just right: generous, warm, high-spirited real entertainment for a big audience.”

Tadias crew was there and we had the opportunity to interview the band members, as well as the Director of Public Programming for Lincoln Center.

Below is Tadias TV’s coverage of the event. You can also check out photos from the show on our new and improved facebook page at Facebook/TadiasConnect – where you can also find our latest news, photos, and videos.
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Click here to view photos from Debo & Fendika’s NYC outdoor concert.

Watch:

Debo Band & Fendika Summer Tour Dates: L.A., Oakland, D.C., and NYC

Debo band will be joined by the Ethiopian traditional dance and music troupe, Fendika, on Friday August 5 in Los Angeles, on Saturday August 6th in Oakland, on Monday August 8th in D.C. and on Thursday August 11 in New York. (Photo courtesy of Debo band)

Tadias Magazine
By Tigist Selam

Updated: Tuesday, August 2, 2011

New York (Tadias) – Debo band and Fendika dance group will perform near Los Angeles’s Little Ethiopia at Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts at MacArthur Park on Friday August 6.

The group is also expected to make its first appearance in Northern California this coming weekend when they perform live at the “Historic Sweets Ballroom” in Oakland. The Oakland event is being hosted by the Ethiopian Arts Forum of the Bay Area and will take place on Saturday, August 6th.

In the East Coast, “Ethiopian funk invades Washington as Debo welcomes Lounge Lizards to the Kennedy Center’s Atrium on the roof terrace level for an extraordinary happy hour,” reports The Washington Examiner. The D.C. concert is slated for August 8th.

The band will then head to New York for an outdoors performance at the Lincoln Center – Damrosch Park, scheduled for Thursday, August 11th.

Debo, the Boston-based Ethio-groove ensemble, and Fendika, the Addis Ababa-based cultural dance group, have been collaborating on joint international shows since 2009. “U.S. audiences went crazy for the traditional dancing of [Fendika],” said Debo’s band leader Danny Mekonnen in an interview with Tadias Magazine in regards to the group’s recent tour. “I think seeing the dance of a culture immediately creates a greater appreciation and understanding of the music.”

Watch: Debo Band Tour 2011 from Ashley Hodson on Vimeo

Debo Band Tour 2011 from Ashley Hodson on Vimeo.

Debo is an Ethiopian American band. And its unique instrumentation – including horns, strings and accordion – was inspired by the Golden Age of Ethiopian music in the late 1960s and early 70s, but its accomplished musicians are giving new voice to that sound.

The Ethiopian traditional dance and music troupe, Fendika, includes amazing young Azmari artists led by one of Ethiopia’s leading dancers Melaku Belay. Belay, who is one of the most active arts advocates in the Addis Ababa scene today, is an innovative and virtuoso interpreter of Eskista. Belay performed at the Lincoln outdoors concert in 2008 with legendary saxophonist Gétatchèw Mèkurya and The Ex band.

Regarding the collective’s upcoming NYC show – which will be held at the same venue where the historic concert featuring Mahmoud Ahmed, Alemayehu Eshete, and Getachew Mekuria took place three years ago – Danny said he is eagerly anticipating his New York gig.

“I can’t tell you how I excited I am to present Debo Band with special guests Fendika at Lincoln Center Out of Doors!”, he said. “I was at the historic concert in 2008 with Getachew Mekuria, Mahmoud Ahmed, and Alemayehu Eshete.”

Danny adds: “I loved the collaborations with saxophonist and The Ex and vocalists and The Either/Orchestra. I think that audiences will remember Melaku as the dancer with Getachew and the Ex. I’m honored that my band is the next group to present Ethiopian music to Lincoln Center audiences. Also, I’m thrilled to have Melaku as the project’s co-leader. He is a visionary Ethiopian artist and his work with Fendika is second to none.”

Click here to read Tadias Magazine’s recent interview with Danny Mekonnen.

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If You Go:

Los Angeles Friday August 6 at 7PM
Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts – MacArthur Park
230 West 6th Street Los Angeles, CA 90057
Info: FREE – call 213-384-5701
For more details: http://levittla.org/en/calendar.html

Oakland Saturday August 6th at 9PM
Historic Sweets Ballroom
1933 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612
Door: $20.00
Venue phone: 510-501-3413
More info at: ethiopianartsforum.org

Washington, D.C. Monday August 8th at 6pm
Where: Kennedy Center Atrium, Millennium Stage
Who: Debo Band / Fendika
When: Lounge opens at 5:30 p.m.
Info: Free, 202-467-4600 or kennedy-center.org

New York City Thursday August 11 at 7:00pm
Lincoln Center – Damrosch Park
Lincoln Center’s Plaza
B/N Broadway & Amsterdam Avenues
West 62nd Street to West 65th Street
Visit LCOutofDoors.org for complete schedule
Call 212-875-5766 to request a brochure.

Direction to Lincoln Center – Damrosch Park:
Take No.1 IRT to 66th Street/Lincoln Center Station)
OR the A, B, C, D and No. 1 trains to 59th St/Columbus Circle.

Video: Addis Ababa Bete – Debo Band with Fendika Dancers at Joe’s Pub, NYC, September 2010

Debo & Fendika to Perform at The Lincoln Center Out of Doors – August 11

Above: The Ethiopian traditional dance troupe Fendika, will join Debo band on Thursday August 11 for one of the nation's longest running summer outdoor concerts. (Photo courtesy of Debo Band)

Tadias Magazine
By Tigist Selam

Published: Thursday, July 14, 2011

New York (Tadias) – The Boston-based Ethio-groove ensemble, Debo, and the Addis Ababa-based cultural dance group, Fendika, are set to collaborate on another exciting NYC summer concert. This time, the collective will perform on August 11 at The Lincoln Center Out of Doors, the same venue where the historic concert featuring Mahmoud Ahmed, Alemayehu Eshete, and Getachew Mekuria took place in 2008.

Debo is an Ethiopian American band led by Danny Mekonnen. The band’s unique instrumentation – including horns, strings and accordion – was inspired by the Golden Age of Ethiopian music in the late 1960s and early 70s, but its accomplished musicians are giving new voice to that sound.

The Ethiopian traditional dance and music troupe, Fendika, includes amazing young Azmari artists led by one of Ethiopia’s leading dancers Melaku Belay. Belay, who is one of the most active artists and arts advocates on the Addis Ababa scene today, is an innovative and virtuoso interpreter of Eskista. Belay performed at the Lincoln outdoors concert in 2008 with legendary saxophonist Gétatchèw Mèkurya and The Ex band.

Below is our recent interview with Debo’s band leader Danny Mekonnen, standing front-right in the above photograph.

Tadias: The last time your band was in town, we danced all night. The lead singer makes it very easy.

Danny Mekonnen: Bruck is charismatic and humble, but he’s also a very serious musician! I definitely think having him as a front man makes it easy for audiences to get into our music, even if they don’t understand what he’s singing about. One of the things that inspires me is knowing that what we do is unique — there’s not a group anywhere in the world quite like us. Playing a diverse musical set is important to us because we love music from across the country and throughout Ethiopia’s musical history. To only play music from the 1970s would miss out on great contemporary artists like Gossaye and Tsehaye Yohaness; we’ve played and studied several arrangements by Abegaz Shiota, as well. And to play only Amharic music with a chic-chic-ca beat, would miss out get Tigrigna and Oromo music, too. Ethiopia has a reach musical landscape and we try hard to honor that.

Tadias: How was Fendika received by U.S. audiences?

DM: U.S. audiences went crazy for the traditional dancing of Melaku Belay and his partner Zinash Tsegaye. I think seeing the dance of a culture immediately creates a greater appreciation and understanding of the music. And Melaku and Zinash are the best at what they do! We started working with Fendika (Melaku’s group) in May 2009 on our first tour in Ethiopia. It helped that Debo Band’s members hung out at Melaku’s azmari bet – also called Fendika – every night that we weren’t playing! So the friendship and bond grew in a very organic way.

Tadias: How excited are you about your upcoming appearance in New York this summer?

DM: I can’t tell you how I excited I am to present Debo Band with special guests Fendika at Lincoln Center Out of Doors! I was at the historic concert in 2008 with Getachew Mekuria, Mahmoud Ahmed, and Alemayehu Eshete. I loved the collaborations with saxophonist and The Ex and vocalists and The Either/Orchestra. I think that audiences will remember Melaku as the dancer with Getachew and the Ex. I’m honored that my band is the next group to present Ethiopian music to Lincoln Center audiences. Also, I’m thrilled to have Melaku as the project’s co-leader. He is a visionary Ethiopian artist and his work with Fendika is second to none.

Tadias: Any plans to come out with a CD?

DM: I hope to do more touring with Debo — this summer we are going to California for the first time. And hopefully we’ll do our first European tour in 2012. Yes, we are planning to release a CD next year. I’m really excited about all that we have going on right now.

Tadias: On a personal note, we also hear that you recently became a father. Congratulations!

DM: Thanks so much. My daughter is a year and a half now. I’m not sure I have quite learned to balance work and family! It’s always a struggle, but it helps to have a wife who’s supportive of my band. It also helps that she’s an artist and business owner herself!

Tadias: What kind of music do you listen to at home?

DM: I listen to all kinds of music. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Fleet Foxes, a great indie-folk band. But I go through phases where I listen to nothing but hip hop or experimental or Ethiopian music. My inspiration comes from all over including from my friends who are great musicians.

Tadias: Is there anything that you would like to add?

DM: I just want to add that this summer’s tour with Fendika wouldn’t be possible without the support of Lincoln Center. New York is lucky to be home to one of the largest and most artist-friendly performing artists institutions in the world. Our heartfelt thanks go out to Bill Bragin, Director of Public Programming at Lincoln Center, who is a big fan and supporter of both Debo and Melaku.

Tadias: Thank you Danny and good luck.
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If You Go:
All events are free and take place on Lincoln Center’s Plaza between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenues, from West 62nd Street to West 65th Street (except where noted). Debo will perform on August 11th. Take No.1 IRT to 66th Street/Lincoln Center Station) OR the A, B, C, D and No. 1 trains to 59th St/Columbus Circle. Visit LCOutofDoors.org for complete schedule or call 212-875-5766 to request a brochure.

Photos courtesy of Debo band.

Video: Addis Ababa Bete – Debo Band with Fendika Dancers at Joe’s Pub, NYC, September 2010

Ramech-Art: Designs of Rahel Takle-Peirce

Above: Model Hana wearing a scarf by Rahel Takle Peirce of Ramech-Art. (Photo: Marlene Burger's Gallery, 02/05/2011)

Tadias Magazine
Art Talk
By Alan Bunce

Updated: Thursday, June 23, 2011

Berkshire, UK (Tadias) – The untrained eye may not at first spot the significance of the designs of artist Rahel Takle-Peirce, whose elaborate and colorful pattern creations are used for silk scarves, shawls, sarongs and a variety of other products.

Rahel, born in Addis Ababa in 1951, tells the story of her country of origin, not through writings or poems, but through designs of abstract art.

Every one of her 250 designs has its origins in Rahel’s personal reaction to the traumatic events of the 1970′s in Ethiopia, the dispersion of people from their original homeland and the re-direction of a life that should have been very different. Through the medium of design, she also relays the subsequent joy of her marriage and birth of her two sons.

Rahel’s family who were owners of a coffee plantation, sent their daughter to college in Minnesota which was ended abruptly when they were forced to flee the country and lost everything in the revolution of the 1970s.

They arrived in London in 1976 and Rahel has now lived in England for over 30 years.

She married a scientist and had two sons but still finds the trauma of her past difficult to dwell over.

Her escape is to become a conduit for those thoughts, allowing them to pass through her and onto the canvas, translating them into vibrant designs. Take any one of the images from her portfolio of 250 at her studio Ramech-Art, and Rahel can tell you its origins and how its colours are her way of expressing her emotions, built up over 30, sometimes challenging and sometimes joyful, years.

“I can see the colours of emotions,” she said. “The creative mind has to take over. My artwork has helped to heal me.”

Rahel, who has worked in psychiatry in the UK, first used her art as a way to relax. Now she takes that concept a stage further, listening in strict confidence to the troubles of others to inspire an abstract painting for that person which represents their emotions and internal conflicts and that can help them learn about themselves for many months afterwards.

Her subjects are asked to talk of their thoughts of the ‘now’, while Rahel translates their words into a painting. She says it helps them understand their feelings better.


The basic colour, orange, is the colour of warmth and well being. This represents contentment. The
sun’s connection through the body. In Rahel’s case it was the happiness she felt to be alive with her
young children. (Photograph courtesy of Ramech-Art – Healing art design by Rahel Takle-Peirce)


Appendage: In memory of ‘tied legs’, the realities of those left behind. (Design by Rahel Takle-Peirce)


The basic colors green & blue are colors of growth and peace. In this case, it represents gratitude for
the harmony and abundance in Rahel’s life and the love she experiences through her family. (RTP)

People who feel they are at a crossroads often find it therapeutic, but Rahel describes what she does as a gift rather than something she has to try hard at.

She said: “It’s just like breathing to me. If I can do it for one person, I can do it for anybody.”

But for her it is not a case of pondering the troubles of her subjects, simply interpreting them.

She said: “People tell you their stories and the colours I see symbolise what they say. But it does not go into my mind. My mind switches off to protect me. The designs are a bit like hieroglyphic messages. My mind will translate what they say. I don’t process it in my mind. I see the person’s voice and not much gets registered in my memory. After people have received their design it sticks in their mind rather than mine. When I am finished I feel better and they feel better. They can use the picture to solve problems they are dealing with.”

However, this can work in reverse. People can come to her when they are happy, have an abstract design painted from their thoughts and use it as a tonic at more sombre moments.

But while her paintings all tell stories, the task for Rahel now is to get that story told to fashion buyers and hotel designers. She needs them to know that the designs she wants to sell them carry powerful tales of real human pain and joy and are not purely abstract.

Buyers at some top hotel brands have heaped praise on her work but the opportunities to meet them face to face are few and far between. The marketing obstacle she faces is to convince them she is not just another artist looking to make a living but someone with a remarkable background which took her from wealth to running for her life and then onto joy and happiness.

Rahel’s designs can be printed on textile, paper, any other household items, or on any object. Some printed products are available for purchase directly through her website. You can learn more about Rahel Takle-Peirce and buy her work at www.ramech.com.

Video: The following video is courtesy of Ramech-Art – Rahel’s designs.

Watch:

Interview: Yemane Demissie Talks About His Latest Film on Haile Selassie

Above: Episodes in the Life & Times of Emperor Haile Selassie was screened at the Schomburg on Thursday, May 26, 2011.

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Updated: Friday, May 27, 2011

New York (Tadias) – The 8th Annual Sheba Film Festival featured the New York premiere of Yemane Demissie’s film Twilight Revelations: Episodes in the Life & Times of Emperor Haile Selassie. The screening took place at the Schomburg Center on Thursday, May 26th.

The documentary, which features rare archival footage coupled with exclusive interviews and firsthand accounts, takes a fresh look at the mixed legacy of one of the most controversial African monarchs in modern history. Emperor Haile Selassie is widely admired abroad for his memorable appeal at the League of Nations in 1936 during the second Italian invasion of Ethiopia, as well as for his continental leadership role in the 1950′s and 1960′s during the decolonization of most African countries. History also remembers him for his administrative failures at home and for presiding over one of the most archaic land tenure systems in the world. Although credited for his commitment to establishing modern institutions and nurturing a new class of academics and professionals in Ethiopia, he is also criticized for his prolonged neglect of reform voices and the unsustainable poverty of the vast majority of his people – which would eventually bring about the abrupt and unceremonious end to his rule.

Below is our recent interview with Filmmaker Yemane Demissie who is also an Assistant Professor at the Kanbar Institute of Film & Television at NYU.


Yemane Demissie. (Photo via NYU)

Tadias: It is clear that you’ve made a conscious effort to tell a balanced story. The film documents the highs and lows of the Emperor’s reign. Why do you think people remain fascinated by Haile Selassie almost four decades after he was deposed by a popular revolt?

YD: Apart from the five-year intermission during the Italo-Ethiopian War, the Emperor was in power from 1916 until 1974. That is long enough to make it possible for two generations of Ethiopians to be born and come of age during his reign. But in addition to the length of his sovereignty, his significant national and international contributions, his personality, and his leadership style contribute to the fascination. In the end, however, charisma is never the sum of the parts.

Tadias: The documentary also touches upon the more human side of the person. We hear from some of his family members about his role as a father, other interviewees discuss his daily routine, such as his regular early morning physical exercise, etc. You also incorporate some fascinating images that capture the Emperor in private moments. What do you most want people to take away from this film?

YD: That nearly six decades of leadership cannot be reduced to a triumph, [such as] the 1963 establishment of the OAU in Addis Ababa, or a fiasco, the 1973 famine. That a lot more research is wanting since there is so much we don’t know about the Emperor and his era. I also need not point out that it’s impossible to convey six decades of leadership in 58 minutes, the length of the documentary. That empathy is crucial if one wants to learn.

Tadias: One of the most dramatic moments in the film comes during the 1960 coup attempt against the emperor while he was traveling abroad. We know that you have dedicated a whole movie exploring this subject. Can you tell us a bit about the coup, its leaders, and why the revolt was a significant historical event?

YD: In December 1960, General Mengistu Neway, the head of the Imperial Bodyguard, his younger brother, Ato Girmame Neway, the intelligence tsar, Colonel Workeneh Gebeyehu, and a circle of their supporters attempted to overthrow the Emperor while he was on a state visit to Brazil. When the coup d’état failed, the leaders executed most of the government officials they had detained — including the acclaimed patriot leader, Ras Abebe Aregay — and fled. Ato Girmame Neway and Colonel Workeneh Gebeyehu died before they were captured and their corpses were hung publicly. General Mengistu Neway was taken captive. He was given a trial in which he expressed himself openly. A copy of the trial transcriptions can be found at the Institute of Ethiopian Studies. At the end of the trial, he was found guilty and condemned to death.

For a number of years before the coup, a not insignificant number of the intelligentsia had began to express its discontent and frustration, albeit it discretely, with and about the imperial administration. These young people believed that the Emperor and his administration were, at best, dithering, or at worst, blocking the political, social, economic and cultural changes that they deemed were essential and overdue.

The coup was a significant event for many reasons. I can think of two at the moment: First, the lack of significant civic bodies or institutions, such as independent press, political parties, professional associations, labor unions, in which differing views and proposals could be discussed openly and seriously and then implemented or rejected, encouraged the belief in force as the only path to change. Second, for many of the educated young men and women who came of age immediately following the coup d’état the leaders of the putsch became champions of change.

Tadias: Even though the film consists of several interviews, we do not see the face of the interviewer, and except on two occasions we don’t hear the interviewers voice either. How would the film be different if the audience had heard the questions? How did most of the interviewed individuals react off-camera to the questions?

YD: I used “chapter headings” before each “episode” to make sure that the topic at hand was not confusing. The only time you heard the interviewer’s, my voice, was when its absence would have caused confusion. Had I included my voice, the chain-like flow of the narratives would have been shattered. Many of the responses were selections from much longer explanations and anecdotes. Part of my job as the editor was to distill and synthesize. This approach is not unusual in documentary filmmaking.

Tadias: In the last scene you actively interject and ask a follow-up question. What spurred this break in style?

YD: I decided to use that section because it was moving and powerful. Since Ato Mamo Haile, the interviewee, asked me a question directly, breaking the fourth wall, I had to reply. If I had technically muted my response the segment would not have worked. After experiencing a film in which the subjects addressed an invisible person off camera for about 56 minutes, the shift, with Ato Mamo addressing the camera directly, becomes noticeable and affective. By breaking the fourth wall, Ato Mamo poses a question not only to me but to the viewer. That was why I switched styles.

Tadias: Were there any rules you set for yourself about what you would or wouldn’t discuss on camera?

YD: I wouldn’t say rule but approach. There is vast amount of literature about the Emperor and his era written primarily by journalists or scholars who specialize in that time period. Since that information was readily available, I targeted primary sources or first hand accounts from individuals whose observations were not as readily available.

Tadias: What were some of the biggest challenges in making this film?

YD: One of many [challenges] was constructing a narrative when so many of the key participants were killed by the military junta or have died of old age or poor health without leaving any record of their work or observations.

Tadias: Why did you name the film “Twilight Revelations”?

YD: I hope the answer to that question becomes evident after a viewing of the film.

Tadias: Thank you Yemane and see you on Thursday at the Schomburg Center!

If You Go: (This event has passed)
The 8th Annual Sheba Film Festival
The New York premiere of “Twilight Revelations”
Episodes in the Life & Times of Emperor Haile Selassie
Thursday, May 26th, 2011 7PM (Admission: $12)
The Schomburg Center (515 Malcolm X Boulevard, 135th St)
Director Yemane Demissie will be present for the Q&A session following the screening.
Click here to watch the trailer.

Ethiopian Art at Elizabeth Street Fine Arts Gallery in New York

Above: About 15 of the Ethiopian parchments will remain on display until June 30th 2011 at Milos Simovic's gallery in NYC.

Tadias Magazine
Art Talk

Published: Saturday, May 14, 2011

New York (Tadias) – Elizabeth Street Fine Arts gallery in New York, which specializes in antiquities and tribal art, is offering a rare opportunity to view old talismanic art of Ethiopia, ranging in price from $4,000 to $16,000 each and dating back to the 18th century.

According to the gallery: “Production of talismanic art was wide spread among the entire Ethiopian population. While mostly within Christian tradition, it also drew heavily from Judaism and Islam and was practiced by all. It was wide spread in Egypt in 10th century. Talismanic art had an uneasy relationship with Orthodox Church, and although it is deeply integrated in its life and traditions, it was often considered idolatry, and while not exactly forbidden, (except in cases of invoking demons etc.) it is often frowned upon. So called “Magic Scrolls” are long rolls of parchment, illuminated by talismanic and figurative images and texts, usually in Ge’ez (Ethiopian liturgical language), of protective prayers, invocations of secret names of God, or sometimes demons. They are produced and used for varied purposes, healing, protection from spells, exorcisms etc. Scrolls are referred to as ya’ branna kitab, “written on skin” in Amharic, asmat or “names” in Ge’ez or ta’lsam, “talisman” in Tigrinya. Scrolls are made for a specific individual by dabtara (an unordained “priest” who studied scriptures, singing and poetry, a practitioner of traditional medicine, magician) and are carried and used by that person extensively. They rarely survive trough few generations of use. The oldest known scroll is recently dated to 16th century, while majority of great surviving scrolls date between late 18th to early 20th century, as do the scrolls in this exhibit.”

The New York Times adds: “Shamans in Ethiopia tried for centuries to cure ailments by naming and ranting against the demons at fault on goatskin scrolls. The calligraphy incantations trailed along vellum strips about six feet long, with illustrations of saints stabbing monsters. The owners would roll up and carry around the protective scrolls, which have turned up in archaeological digs wrapped around corpses. If the spells did appear to have healing effects during the owners’ lifetimes, the vellums sometimes ended up on the market. The original patrons’ names would be scraped away, leaving blanks here and there that suggest censored government documents.”

About 15 of the Ethiopian parchments will remain on display until June 30th 2011 at Milos Simovic’s Elizabeth Street Fine Arts gallery in NoLita.

If You Go:
Elizabeth Street Fine Arts
209 Elizabeth Street
New York, NY 10012
Phone: 212.274.9400
Email: elizabethstreetfinearts@gmail.com

Related:
Art in Review: Ethiopian Magic Scrolls – ‘Talismanic Art of Ethiopia’ (NYT)

Hisab: The Hustle and Bustle of Addis Ababa in Short Animation

Above: A scene from hisab, short animation based on Addis' urban life with animation painted on a single surface canvas.

Tadias Magazine
Art Talk

Updated: Friday, April 22, 2011

New York (Tadias) – In the following video entitled Hisab, Ethiopian American artist Ezra Wube takes a humorous poke at the hustle and bustle of Addis Ababa. The short animated video tells an urban folklore by bringing to life the sights and sounds inside the city’s popular blue and white minibus (a cross between a bus and a taxi). The short film’s main characters are four-legged residents – donkeys, dogs and goats.

“The technique I used to make the animation is called stop-action animation,” Ezra tells us. “The entire frames were painted on a single surface canvas. After painting a scene I take still picture and then paint the next frame on top of it. So its pretty much like watching the same painting changing continuously. The paintings physically no longer exist but only the memories.”

Ezra who moved to the United States at the age of 18 was born and raised in Addis Ababa. In 2003 he was awarded the Massachusetts Annual Black Achievement Award, and held his first one-person show at the Dreams of Freedom Museum in Boston, Massachusetts, curated by Emily Sloat Shaw. In 2004, he received his Bachelor’s of Fine Arts from Massachusetts College of Art. Upon graduation, Ezra was awarded a Dondis and Godine Travel Fellowship to conduct research in Ethiopia on folktales and traditional lore. In 2006, he held his second solo show entitled “Story Telling” at the United Nations in New York. The following year, Ezra was part of the “Ethiopian Millennium” art show at Blackburn Gallery, Howard University in Washington, DC. In 2008, Ezra participated in three exhibitions: “Reflections in Exile – Five Contemporary African Artists Respond to Social Injustice” at the South Shore Art Center in Cohasett, “Here to There” at the South Seattle Community College in Seattle, Washington, and “Abyssinia to Harlem and Back” at the Canvas Paper and Stone Gallery in New York.

Ezra received the Pamela Joseph Art Scholarship in 2009 while working on his Master’s of Fine Arts thesis at Hunter College in New York. And most recently, in 2011, Ezra held his first screening at Addis Atlier, “Memory and Process,” in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, curated by Leo Kosm.

Watch:

Stars of Ethiopia Take Center Stage at NYU’s Kimmel Center – Video

Above: NYT Photographer Chester Higgins, Jr. gives Tadias a tour of his exhibition featuring 13 portraits of Ethiopian faces.

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New York (Tadias) – Near New York City’s Washington Square Park, at NYU’s Windows at Kimmel Center, pedestrians and drivers alike are being treated to 13 exquisite photographs from Ethiopia. The images were captured by New York Times Photographer Chester Higgins, Jr. during his 2007-2010 trip to Ethiopia. The outdoor exhibit, entitled “Stars of Ethiopia,” is organized by the Institute of African American Affairs at NYU and features photos measuring 70″ x 80″ that are visible from the sidewalk. With each portrait, Higgins seeks to create a dialogue with the viewer, revealing his subjects’ diverse homeland through their eyes.

In the following video, Mr. Higgins gives Tadias a tour of his exhibition.

WATCH:

Events Highlights: February-March 2011

Above: Highlight of various events that took place this month
as well as upcoming events and programs scheduled in March.

Video: Events Highlights – February/March 2011 (Tadias)

Tadias TV
Events Highlights

Posted: Thursday, February 24, 2011

New York (Tadias) – This video features upcoming events in March 2011, as well as a highlight of various programs that took place last month, including clips from Aster Aweke’s NYC concert.

Highlight of Upcoming Events

Chester Higgins Jr., Staff Photographer for the New York Times since 1975, will be exhibiting a series of 13 Ethiopian portraits at NYU’s Kimmel Center. The selection of photographs for the outdoor exhibit were taken by Higgins between 2007 and 2010 in Ethiopia, and will be on 24-hour display at Windows at Kimmel Center from March 1st through May 1st, 2011. An opening reception will be held on Friday, March 11th at the 2nd floor lounge of Kimmel Center from 6:30 to 8:30pm.

Ethiopian Students Association International (ESAI) will hold its 11th annual summit at the University of Pennsylvania, from March 18th to March 19th, 2011. Learn more at ESAI.org.

If you would like to suggest an event for our consideration, please email us at info@tadias.com.

Chester Higgins Jr Photography Exhibit at NYU Kimmel Center

Chester Higgins' portraits of individuals from Ethiopia will be on display from March 1 through May 1st in New York.

Tadias Magazine
By Tseday Alehegn

Published: Thursday, February 3, 2011

New York (Tadias) – Chester Higgins Jr., Staff Photographer for the New York Times since 1975, will be exhibiting a series of 13 Ethiopian portraits at NYU’s Kimmel Center. The selection of photographs for the outdoor exhibit were taken by Higgins between 2007 and 2010 in Ethiopia, and will be on 24-hour display at Windows at Kimmel Center from March 1st through May 1st, 2011.

The exhibit entitled “Stars of Ethiopia: Photographs by Chester Higgins Jr.” features images measuring 70″ x 80″ on the public sidewalk for pedestrians and vehicular traffic to see. At night the images will be backlit, and Higgins says “so for 24 hours a day during these two months the Washington Square public will be treated to a little of Ethiopia in Greenwich Village.”

The official press release notes that Ethiopia “is a land of contrast and heterogeneity. The northeastern African nation is composed of more than 80 ethnic groups speaking over 80 languages, with cultural practices and traditions dating more than 3,000 years. With each portrait, Higgins seeks to create a dialogue with the viewer, revealing his subjects’ diverse homeland through their eyes.”

Higgins’ work has been printed in several publications including The New York Times, Life, Newsweek, Fortune, Essence, The Village Voice, and The New Yorker magazine. His photography is part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. For Higgins, taking pictures has grown “into a life-long mission to show the decency, dignity, and virtuous character of people of African descent.” He has also published books on themes such as the nobility of aging, the experience of Black American women in the seventies, trans-Atlantic communities in the African Diaspora, and an autobiographical journey entitled “Echo of the Spirit,” which recounts his life as a photographer and an artist. Higgins cites Romare Bearden, Cornell Capa, Gordon Parks, P.H. Polk, and Arthur Rothstein as individuals whom he considers to be his mentors.

Higgins’ photographs invoke the power of the collective voice, and he recounts his three decades of traveling across South America, the Caribbean, and the African continent to document the culture, history and daily life of Africans in the Diaspora. “I made more trips in search of the missing pieces to fill in the harmony and add rhythm to make my symphony,” he says. “It came together as my fourth book: Feeling the Spirit: Searching the World for the People of Africa.”


Photographer Chester Higgins Jr. Courtesy Photo.

Solo exhibitions of Higgins’ award-winning work have been displayed at the The Smithsonian Institution, the International Center of Photography, Musée Dapper Paris, The Museum of African Art, The Museum of Photographic Arts, The New-York Historical Society, and The Schomburg Center in Harlem. Emphasizing the presence of a visual language Higgins states that “a camera can’t compose a picture. Only your eye can. Seeing and recording with a camera is a special process that has its own language — a visual language…It takes practice to learn a language. A visual language takes just as much time and commitment. When you become fluent in it, you will be ready to handle the split second decisions necessary to make exceptional photographs.”

An opening reception for the Stars of Ethiopia exhibit will be held on Friday, March 11th at the 2nd floor lounge of Kimmel Center from 6:30 to 8:30pm.

The exhibition is curated by Lydie Diakhaté, Adjunct Curator at Grey Art Gallery, and coordinated in collaboration with the Institute of African American Affairs at NYU.

If You Go:
March 1st through May 1st
NYU Kimmel Center
60 Washington Square S
New York, 10012

Cover photos: © Chesterhiggins.com.

Washington Post’s American Mosaic Features Mekbib Gebertsadik

Above: Award-winning artist Mekbib Gebertsadik speaks with
Washington Post reporter Annie Gowen, re: his new life here.

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Posted: Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New York (Tadias) – The Washington Post’s American Mosaic — an online weekly live Q&A program where reporters talk to local immigrants about their experience in the United States — highlighted Ethiopian artist Mekbib Gebertsadik this past month.

The live video features a discussion with the Arlington, Virginia-based artist regarding his art works, his struggles to re-establish himself as an artist in America and his overall experience as an immigrant.

“Mekbib Gebertsadik is an award-winning artist who immigrated to the U.S. on a diversity visa in 2001 from Ethiopia. He achieved wide-ranging success — living full-time off his art with his own studio — while in his home country, but has had trouble replicating his success here. He now works nights at FedEx,” the show’s introduction notes.

“Mekbib Gebertsadik has created art his entire life. Upon completing his higher education, Mekbib worked as a full-time studio artist, winning an international competition in 2000 in the Netherlands. He moved to the U.S. from Ethiopia with his wife in 2001.”

Watch:

Click here to watch the video at the The Washington Post.

Photo Credit: Lloyd Wolf, courtesy the Columbia Pike Documentary Project.

Addis Foto Fest: International Photography Festival

Above: The Addis Foto Fest is taking place at various venues
throughout Addis Ababa — from Dec. 7th to Dec. 11th, 2010.

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Updated: Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New York (Tadias) – The inaugural Addis Ababa international photography festival, Addis Foto Fest, is underway in Ethiopia this week, and showcases a diverse array of work from local and international photographers and artists using various mediums. The week-long calendar of events includes several exhibitions, film screenings, academic discourses and other workshops.

Directed & curated by Aida Muluneh – winner of the 2010 CRAF’s International Award of Photography - the installations include exhibitions highlighting images by established and emerging international photographers, while bringing to the foreront contemporary talents from the African continent. Participants include Chester Higgins Jr, Antonio Fiorente, Zacharias Abubeker, Rosa Verhoeve, Jean-Baptiste Eczet, Ralf Baecker, Endalkatchew Tesfa Gebreselassie and Petterick Wiggers.

In their press release organizers stated: “The first edition of Addis Foto Fest brings together photographers from Africa and the Diaspora, in order to foster a dialogue through various exhibitions, concerts, panel discussions, residency programs, portfolio reviews, film screenings, slideshow presentations & much more.” According to the group’s web site: “A special tribute will be given to legendary photographer Shemelis Desta, who will come from London for the opening of the show with the support of the British Council.” The former court photographer is credited for his historical treasure-trove capturing official state activity in Ethiopia between 1963 and 1982. Other highlights include screenings of “Mo and Me”, a documentary directed by Salim Amin, “Arrested Development”, a 3 minute video made in 2003 by British artist Grace Ndiritu, “Invisible Borders”, a collective project presented by Emeka Okereke, as well as slideshows entitled “On the Roof” and “The Brooklyn Photo Salon” presented by OTR Project and Regine Romain respectively.

The events take place at various venues throughout Addis Ababa from December 7th to December 11th. The festival is sponsored, among others, by the African Union & the Delegation of the European Union to the African Union, Prince Claus Fund, AECID, Goethe-Institut, British Council, Alliance éthio-française, CulturesFrance, Heinrich Böll Foundation, the Embassy of Canada and the Addis Ababa University.

If you go:
Details are avilable at addisfotofest.com.

Video: Aida Muluneh talks photography with Tadias

Skoto Gallery exhibits Tesfaye Tessema December 9th – January 22nd

Above: New work by Tesfaye Tessema. (Symphony in Colors
I, 2010, acrylic on canvas, 42×30 inches) – Skoto Gallery, NY.

Tadias Magazine
Events News
Source: Skoto Gallery

Updated: Thursday, December 9, 2010

New York – Skoto Gallery is pleased to present Symphony in Colors, an exhibition of recent paintings by the Ethiopian-born artist Tesfaye Tessema. This will be his third solo show at the gallery. Reception is on Thursday, December 9th, 6-8pm, the artist will be present.

Tesfaye Tessema’s recent paintings exploits strategies that combine the physicality of paint, whether thin or thick, with an awareness of the role abstraction play as a means of expressing universal human emotions. He employs expressive gestures, deep sensitivity to texture and a mastery of tonality and color that gives his pictures a kind of interior glow where sight, memory and emotion fuse into a texture of vibrations and pulsations that allows the viewer a freedom of imagination, interpretation and emotional response. The question of where the inside and outside worlds meet, the ambiguity of space and surface tension are formally resolved in his pictures by an emphasis on concept and process over end-product while maintaining rigorous affirmative critical propositions about discrete cultural and historical realities.

In Tesfaye Tessema’s pictures, the filter of personal experience of doing, of painting and making art, away from his Ethiopian homeland for over three decades is not just essential to the substance of his creative process, but also bears witness to his ability to embrace a continuum of cultural precedents and influences, creativity with an open-ended improvisational sensibility and an awareness of the crucial links between culture, politics and social agency. The selection in this exhibition evokes the expansive possibilities of life and art in a world of changing realities and ceaseless change, and for an artist who has found a way to look forward, to engage the future and to challenge the present Tesfaye Tessema’s work is a testament to the ability of art to express big ideas about humanity.

Symphony in Colors I, 2010, acrylic on canvas, 42x30 inches

Tesfaye Tessema was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where he studied at the School of Fine Arts before leaving for the United States in the early 1970s. He obtained an MFA in Fine Art at Howard University, Washington DC, where he was exposed to the richness and diversity of the art of Africa, especially the classical art of West Africa where myth, metaphors and legend abound. His extensive travels in the Middle East, Europe, Africa and Mexico over the years have further broadened his perspectives on the commonality in socio-religious forms among various cultures. He has been included in numerous international survey including “Project Rolywholyobei – Circus from the Museum by John Cage”, 1994, Guggeinheim Museum, New York and Radford University Art Museum, Radford, Va, 2008. His work is in several public and private collections.

If You Go:
Symphony in Colors
Tesfaye Tessema, Recent Paintings
December 9th, 2010 – January 22nd, 2011
SKOTO GALLERY 529 West 20th Street, 5FL.
New York, NY 10011 212-352 8058
info@skotogallery.com www.skotogallery.com

NYC Screening of “Left Unsaid” Featuring Tigist Selam

Above: Tigist Selam and Damon Dash at the New York public
screening of the film Left Unsaid. (Photo by Stephen Knight)

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Friday, November 26, 2010

New York (Tadias) – The first public screening of the film Left Unsaid — whose characters utilize Facebook as the networking tool to explore hot-button social issues — took place at the Dash Gallery in Tribeca last week.

Written and directed by Nelson George, Executive Producer of “Good Hair,” Left Unsaid starts with a woman who uses Facebook to invite a group of online friends from her new neighborhood in Brooklyn to her apartment for Sunday brunch. The conversation that unfolds among this multi-cultural group highlights issues of online relationships, parenting, professional ambitions, marriage, sex, race, gentrification and comical relief by way of urban legends. The Huffington Post notes: “As for the roster of talented actresses who grease his web series script, they came into the project after George quaintly bumped into many of them in the neighborhood.”

The film features, among others, writer and actress Tigist Selam, host of Tadias TV, who plays an Ethiopian-German character named “Bethlehem” – a role that reflects the actress’ own cultural background as half-Ethiopian and half-German. “I met Nelson George at his book signing for his new book ‘City Kid’ last year, I had just moved from Los Angeles back to New York,” Tigist says. “It turned out we lived across the street from each other.” According to the actress, this chance encounter led to her role in the movie. “We started talking about our passion for film and travel, and he told me about the idea of Left Unsaid. I immediately was interested in participating and he started to write for my character ‘Bethlehem,’ which is vaguely based on my Ethiopian and German experience. Initially it was a really small project that somehow organically grew into something much bigger. We just went with the flow and saw it beautifully unfold during the summer. I have learned so much and look forward to many more years of collaboration with Nelson.”

The event at Dash Studios on November 15th was hosted by the venue’s owner, hip-hop and media mogul Damon Dash. The evening attracted an eclectic group of guests. “Some of the attendees were my friends for many, many years and it was so beautiful to have shared that experience with them,” Tigist said. “We hope to have a screening of Left Unsaid in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles next year.’

The online series, which garnered good review at the American Black Film Festival in Miami this past summer, is now live on the web at http://www.Leftunsaidseries.com. Tigist Selam is featured in chapters 3, 4, 8, 14 & 18.

Click here to view photos from the event at Essence magazine.

You can follow Tigist on Twitter: twitter/tigistselam, Facebook: facebook/tigistselam, or on her blog: tiggie.tumblr.com.

Watch here related Tadias Videos featuring Tigist Selam:

Video – Tigist Selam’s Interview with Meklit Hadero

Watch: Tigist Selam’s Interview With Model Maya Haile

Backstage With Danny Mekonnen and Melaku Belay at Joe’s Pub in New York

Above: Tadias TV spoke with Fendika’s group leader Melaku
Belay (left) & Debo band’s founder Danny Mekonnen (right).

Tadias TV
Events News – Video

Published: Monday, September 20, 2010

New York (Tadias) – The Boston-based Debo band and the Fendika traditional dance troupe from Addis Ababa performed to a sold-out audience in New York.

The American and Ethiopian musicians, who made their first joint international appearance at the 7th Sauti za Busara music festival in Zanzibar earlier this year, launched their U.S. tour on Friday, September 17, 2010.

The fifteen piece cross-cultural jazz collective is scheduled to make upcoming stops at select American cities, including Philadelphia, Boston, Richmond (VA), Chicago, and Milwaukee with expected highlight concert at the Chicago World Music Festival.

Tadias TV caught up with Debo band’s founder and Harvard graduate student Danny Mekonnen as well as Fendika’s group leader Melaku Belay at Joe’s Pub in Manhattan.

Watch: Backstage With Danny Mekonnen and Melaku Belay

Hillary Clinton Greets Winners of 2010 Democracy Video Challenge

Above: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, center, and
Under Secretary of State Judith McHale, far right, pose with the
six filmmakers who won the 2010 Democracy Video Challenge.

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Updated: Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Washington — The winners of the 2010 Democracy Video Challenge – including the grand finalist from sub-Saharan Africa Yared Shumete of Ethiopia – were greeted by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at a September 10 awards ceremony at the State Department.

The artists were officially acknowledged for the short videos they created about the nature and exercise of democracy. According to America.gov, “Each winner was awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to Los Angeles, New York and Washington and met with members of civic and film organizations in all three cities.”

“The prompt for the Democracy Video Challenge ‘is open-ended,’ Clinton said. As she noted, the winner from Nepal had observed that ‘democracy can exist in all countries and it doesn’t have a fixed shape or size.’ However, ‘the fundamental tenets are non-negotiable,’ said Clinton. ‘The videos we are honoring capture essential truths about democracy across the world: democracy is about fair play, and [it] is a learning process.’”

“In a speech I gave at the Council on Foreign Relations earlier this week, I said democracy needs defending,” Clinton added. “Well, I think we have a good cross section of defenders here. One of our winners, whose beautiful video was inspired by the Green Movement in Iran, said: ‘If I believe I want democracy, I should fight for it. And this is my way of fighting.’ It gives me great hope to see what young people are saying.”

“Here at the State Department, we often talk about the need to use 21st-century diplomacy to solve 21st-century problems,” said Clinton. “This is the heart of that 21st-century diplomacy — connecting directly to people, particularly young people, around the world.”

Moreover, she said, “we are about to kick off the third annual Democracy Video Challenge at the United Nations next week, so I am very eager to see what ideas this [program] continues to generate.”

Participants were challenged to conceptualize and depict in a short video their interpretations of democracy by completing the phrase “Democracy is…” More than 700 filmmakers in 83 countries submitted their videos via YouTube and the winners were selected by an online public vote that closed on June 15.

The 2010 winners are:

Adhyatmilka from Indonesia

(East Asia), for the video Democracy is yet to learn

Anup Poudel from Nepal

(South and Central Asia), for the video Democracy is black

Farbod Khoshtinat from Iran

(Near East and North Africa) for the video ATTN: Mr. Democrat

Joel Marsden from Spain

(Europe), for the video World Vote Now

Juan Pablo Patiño Arévalo from Colombia

(Western Hemisphere) for the video Democracy is … the right of life (War Child)

Yared Shumete from Ethiopia

(sub-Saharan Africa) for the video Democracy is fair play

Watch

Yared Shumete of Ethiopia

Yared with Hillary Clinton

Yared’s film depicts a childhood game, familiar to many Ethiopians, in which two boys take turns throwing rocks. If the first boy’s rock is hit by the rock of the second boy, the second is entitled to ride on the back of the first boy, who has to run all the way to where the rocks landed. They throw their rocks again, and switch places whenever one boy’s rock hits the rock of the other. In less than three minutes, Yared’s video illustrates the democratic principle of fair play, according to well-understood rules.

Source: America.gov, U.S. State Department, U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa.

Cover Image: From left to right, Juan Pablo Patiño Arévalo of Colombia, Yared Shumete of Ethiopia, Adhyatmilka of Indonesia, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Farbod Khoshtinat of Iran, Anup Poudel of Nepal, Joel Marsden of Spain and Under Secretary of State Judith McHale. (America.gov)

Watch video: Democracy is fair play (Yared Shumete, Ethiopia)

LA Premiere Of Teza To Honor The Late UCLA Professor Teshome Gabriel

Above: The late Dr. Teshome H. Gabriel, a long-time Professor
at UCLA and an authority on third world & post-colonial cinema.

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Friday, September 10, 2010

New York (Tadias) – Haile Gerima’s critically acclaimed movie Teza, to be premiered in Los Angeles on Monday, September 13th, will also honor the late Teshome H. Gabriel, a long serving Professor at UCLA and a leading international figure on third world and post-colonial cinema. Dr. Teshome died suddenly from cardiac arrest on June 15, 2010. He was 70 years old.

Dr. Teshome was born in Ethiopia in 1939 and moved to the States in 1962. He began his academic career at UCLA in the early seventies. According to the university’s Newsroom: “A pioneering scholar and activist, Gabriel had taught cinema and media studies at TFT since 1974 and was closely associated with UCLA’s African Studies Center.”

“He was a brilliant, gracious, elegant and generous man,” said Teri Schwartz, Dean of UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television. “Teshome was a consummate professional and a truly beloved faculty member at TFT…he will be greatly missed by all of us.”

Dr. Teshome earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Utah and a Master’s and a Ph.D. from UCLA, where he would eventually became a tenured professor at the world-famous School of Theater, Film and Television.

He also served as the Founder and Editorial Board Member of the Amharic publication Tuwaf (Light), an Ethiopian Fine Arts Journal, from 1987 to 1991. Dr. Teshome is also the co-editor of the 1993 book Otherness and the Media: The Ethnography of the Imagined and the Imaged and most recently the author the book Third Cinema: Exploration of Nomadic Aesthetics & Narrative Communities. He is quoted as describing his work as that of an activist scholar: “What I am seeking to do, I would say, is validate the notion of the academic citizen, by which I mean an academic who has some relationship to the wider communities that surround us and which overlap with other arts and disciplines.”

Nicholas K. Browne, Vice Chair for Cinema and Media Studies was quoted by UCLA Newsroom as stating that: “Teshome’s work had three main themes. He focused on the unique styles of films made in the non-aligned nations of Latin America and Africa (the “Third World”), the issues of relating and representing ‘the other’ (that is, people not like us), and the unique situation of filmmakers and scholars who have left the countries of their birth and occupy and reflect on their marginal, in-between place in the world, a more and more common situation in a global world of the 20th and 21st centuries.”

The event – slated to be held at the Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood Village – is sponsored by UCLA Film & Television Archive and features a discussion with Director Haile Gerima following the screening. The evening’s co-hosts include filmmakers Billy Woodberry, Charles Burnett, Michie Gleason, as well as Ellias Negash – a long-time personal friend of Professor Teshome- among others.

If You Go:
The Los Angeles Premiere Screening of TEZA
in honor of the late UCLA Professor Teshome Gabriel
Discussion with Haile Gerima following the screening

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2010 7:30 pm
Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood Village
courtyard level of the Hammer Museum
10899 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90024

Tickets $10 at www.cinema.ucla.edu
Box office opens one hour before showtime

All proceeds from this screening will benefit
the Teshome Gabriel Memorial Scholarship Fund at
the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television

Click here for more details:

Cover Image: Dr. Teshome H. Gabriel. Photo credit – UCLA Newsroom.

Related past videos:
Watch: Haile Gerima discusses independent film making at Teza’s opening in New York City

Video: Watch the Trailer

Paintings Inspired by Trip to Ethiopia on Display in Ohio and Kentucky

Above: Boku (blue) by Peter Gooch, acrylic on panel, 80 x 12,
on display at B. Deemer Gallery in Louisville, Kentucky, $4500.

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Sunday, August 29, 2010

New York (Tadias) – Two solo exhibitions featuring new paintings inspired by Dayton, Ohio artist Peter Gooch’s recent trip to Ethiopia are taking place through mid-September at the ArtStreet Studio D Gallery at the University of Dayton and at the B. Deemer Gallery in Louisville, Kentucky.

Professor Peter Gooch, a member of the painting faculty in the visual arts department at the University of Dayton, says he was moved to create the abstract works on paper and small panels by his multiple journey to the country and the striking images captured by his photographer wife Sharon Ransom.

“It was an incredibly powerful, visual and physical experience to be in Ethiopia. It has a very rich, complex and idiosyncratic culture,” Gooch told the Dayton Daily News. “It had such a powerful effect on me that I’m just beginning to distill or assimilate all the visual data I gathered.”

According to the paper: “Gooch broke down that experience into three related groups of work: Lalibela paintings, Boku paintings and Mekuamia paintings. He translated the rock-hewn churches and hilltop monasteries surrounding Lalibela into five acrylic paintings reflective of the ancient city’s atmospheric quality. “Lalibela — Yellow” is his recollection and synthesis of a lemon and lime roadside stand. This striking work on paper is characterized by vertical strips of yellows, greens and blues punctuated with exclamations of black on cream. Boku references the ceremonial leadership staffs of the Oromo tribes. The visuals he created include three high, narrow paintings shown together. Tiny horizontal strips of varying hues march upward in a sea of roughly blended colors. The Christian pilgrims of central and northern Ethiopia carry Mekuamia walking staffs. In “Mekuamia — Yellow Wedge,” tiny horizontal strips of yellow, green and blue cross behind a representative staff in a sea of blood red.”

Learn more at Dayton Daily News.

If You Go:

Project Ethiope |Paintings | Aug 23, 2010 to Sep 24, 2010
Professor Peter Gooch will exhibit his works on paper and small panels at ArtStreet Studio D Gallery Aug. 23 through Sept. 24. A free artists’ reception is scheduled for 4-6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21. The gallery is open Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to midnight; Saturday and Sunday noon to midnight. ArtStreet is located at the intersection of Lawnview Ave. and Kiefaber St. on the University of Dayton campus. For more information, call 937-229-5101 or visit: http://artstreet.udayton.edu.

Location: ArtStreet Studio D Gallery
Cost: Free
For more information, call Adrienne Niess at 937-229-5101 or email niessadl@notes.udayton.edu.

B. Deemer Gallery in Louisville, Kentucky
Peter Gooch “Ethiopian Paintings”, New paintings by Dayton, OH artist.
Ends September 14, 2010
2650 Frankfort Avenue
Louisville, KY 40206
www.bdeemer.com

Ethiopian Artist Tibebe Terffa Paints Kentucky

Above: An exhibition featuring paintings inspired by Ethiopian
artist Tibebe Terffa’s recent visit to Kentuky entitled “Corralling
Colors” opened on Monday in Stanford, where he spent weeks.

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Published: Sunday, August 8, 2010

New York (Tadias) – Renown Ethiopian artist Tibebe Terffa has spent the last two months in Kentucky, where his paintings inspired by local traditions and the states’s famous horse culture, will go on display this week at the Lincoln County Public Library in Stanford.

“It’s mission accomplished, I believe,” Tibebe told the local AM news. “I never thought I could paint all these paintings. It has been very inspiring. I am having a very pleasant time,” he said inside the little home on Mill Street that has been his home and studio. “I didn’t have much stressful times. There’s not much stress reflected in these paintings.”

His ten-week stay in Stanford was sponsored by the First Southern National Bank in partnership with the city’s downtown arts program. As AM News notes, the bank’s President “Jess Correll and wife Angela met Terffa while visiting Ethiopia in February. They visited his studio in the capital city of Addis Ababa, liked his work and bought some of his paintings.”

“Just a coincidence,” Tibebe said of the Corrells’ visit and timely offer.

Per the artist’s website, Tibebe, 62, “was born in the walled city of Harar, Ethiopia in 1948. He studied at the University of Addis Ababa School of Fine Art and Design from where he graduated in painting in 1973. During the school years (1970-1973), Tibebe and his friends formed the Sixteen Young Artist’ Association that aimed at staging exhibitions around the country. Tibebe worked as an art instructor at the Medhane Alem Comprehensive High School in Harar from 1973 until 1980. In 1981 he moved to Addis Ababa, and worked as an Illustrator for Kuraz Publishing House until 1983. Since 1984 he has been working as a studio artist from his residence in Addis Ababa. He has had numerous solo exhibition in Ethiopia, Germany (Berlin), Canada (Winnipeg ,Toronto), USA (Washington), and Spain (Madrid).”

Regarding his recent works, the painter said he initially had to return to recalling scenes from Ethiopia in order to place his new and unfamiliar surroundings into perspective and to get his ‘creative juices flowing.’ “Like a tree, I have roots, a culture, a place where I grew up,” he explained. “When you have roots you can return to, you are not lost. These first paintings were a spring to get to the unknown, to start the engine, to wake up the engine.”

“What goes on inside an artist’s head and then comes out on canvas has been an interesting process to watch,” said Jess Correll, president of First Southern National Bank.

If you go
Ethiopian artist Tibebe Terffa’s “Corralling Colors” exhibit of paintings completed in Stanford will open Monday at Lincoln County Public Library, 310 N. Third St., Stanford. An artist’s reception will be from 6:30-8:30 p.m. More at amnews.com.

Learn more about Tibebe Terffa at: tibebeterffa.com

Cover Image: The artist courtesy of tibebeterffa.com and the picturesque Lincoln County Courthouse located in Stanford, Kentucky.

Spotlight on Photographer Aida Muluneh – Video

Aida Muluneh has been named the winner of the 2010 CRAF International Award of Photography in Italy. (Photo from Tadias video)

Tadias Magazine
Tadias Staff

Published: Sunday, July 25, 2010

New York (TADIAS) – Ethiopian photographer Aida Muluneh has been named the recipient of the 2010 CRAF’s International Award of Photography at a ceremony in Italy.

The 2010 prize, which was given to Aida by the scientific commission of CRAF, has previously been awarded to notable figures of the international photographic scene, including Charles Henri Favrod, Erich Hartmann, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Peter Galassi, Paolo Gasparini, Josef Koudelka, Joan Fontcuberta, Anne Cartier-Bresson, Naomie Walter Rosenblum, Alain Sayag, Margit Zuckriegl, Erich Lessing and Bernard Plossu.

“Aida Muluneh directs her attention as a photographer in particular towards the women of the African diaspora, concentrating on the bonds and the disagreements between the generations, the joys and the pains of life,” the organization said in explaining its reasons why it chose to honor the Ethiopian photographer. “Her subjects transmit, with a mixture of grace and power, the vicissitudes related to the phenomenon of the dispersion of the African people.”

The prize committee said the accolade is also a recognition of Aida’s continued efforts to establish a photography educational-institution in her native country. “In the year that CRAF has dedicated to Africa with the exhibit ‘Glimpses of Africa’, the International Award of Photography awarded to this young and very accomplished photographer – who is what’s more socially committed to the creation of a school of photography dedicated to young people, in Addis Abeba – is also intended to be in recognition of all of the young and emerging African photographers,” the group said.

In the following interview with Tadias.com, Aida talks about photography, working in Ethiopia, and her new book entitled Ethiopia: Past/Forward.

We note that photos displayed during her discussion of the book are not necessarily included in the book. The film clips and music, which accompany her interview, are part of the artist’s recent documentary movie also entitled Ethiopia: Past/Forward.

WATCH

The interview with Aida Muluneh was taped in New York prior to her most recent award. ( Kidane Films)

Galerie Alternance Features Works By Fikru Gebre Mariam

Above: Featured in exhibition at prestigious Galerie Alternance,
Fikru’s paintings have reached new levels of public recognition.

Tadias Magazine
Art Talk

Published: Friday, July 9, 2010

New York (Tadias) – An exhibition featuring recent works by internationally acclaimed Ethiopian artist Fikru Gebre Mariam will open at the prestigious Galerie Alternance in France this weekend.

In his 2009 profile of Fikru on Tadias Magazine, Donald N. Levine described the works as mostly depicting Ethiopian subjects, but expressed in geometric abstraction. “They convey a blend of rich hues, emotional intensity, immediacy of impact, and a touch of austerity,” Levine writes. “If asked to compare them to European artists, I would say that Fikru’s compositions offer a blend of Modigliani figures in a Giacomettian “Still Ladies” stance presented with Braquean geometric abstraction.”

In fact, the painter – who divides his time between his studios in Paris and Addis Ababa – tells the author that Braque was indeed his favorite artist. “Even so, there is no mistaking the deeply Ethiopian flavor of these paintings,” Levine says.”They display hints of Ethiopian miniatures and church paintings. They are imbued with African earth tones. They use the colored garments of Harari women. They capture the somber mood of much Ethiopian life.”

Levine goes on to describe how Fikru Gebre Mariam’s life in Paris and Addis Ababa influences his work. “The world of Ethiopian painters is, like much else about contemporary Ethiopian life, divided between those who have remained at home and attempted to be true to Ethiopian realities, and those who have emigrated and whose offspring evince a passion to emulate Western styles to a high degree. With studios in Paris and Addis Ababa, where he spends half a year each, Fikru savors all he can of both worlds. He insists that it is essential for his art that he remains close to his Ethiopian roots–and indeed has continued to live in his father’s gibbi (home) until now. At the same time, Fikru finds it no less essential to spend half of each year abroad. As he wrote me, “I believe the freedom of being out of Ethiopia has amazing value in my life and work. Both in Europe and the U.S., especially in Paris . . .visiting museums and art galleries bring dramatic important changes in my work. It is like seeing yourself in the big mirror, even if you think you know yourself.”

Fikru is a graduate of the Addis Ababa School of Fine Arts, founded by the distinguished artist Ale Felege Selam – who introduced modern methods of teaching drawing and painting, which he had studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the 1950s. There, the artist became a protégé of instructor Tadesse Mesfin, who Levine says “not only taught him painterly skills but gave him a graphic theme which he would embrace, struggle with, and grow through, ever since.”

Here are recent images courtesy of the artist:

Spotlight on Actress Tigist Selam

Above: Actress Tigist Selam’s role in Nelson George’s new web
series called “Left Unsaid” reflects her own cultural background.
The film is based on Facebook. – (Photo credit: by Louis Seigal)

Tadias Magazine
By Tseday Alehegn

Published: Wednesday, June 30, 2010

New York (Tadias) – Our own Tigist Selam, host of Tadias TV, is featured in a new film called Left Unsaid where she plays an Ethiopian-German character named “Bethlehem” – a role that reflects the actress’ own cultural background as half-Ethiopian and half-German.

Written and directed by Nelson George, Executive Producer of “Good Hair,” Left Unsaid begins with a woman using Facebook to invite a large group of women to her new Brooklyn apartment for Sunday brunch.

“Marisol, recently separated from her music executive husband, has just landed in the Fort Greene area from Manhattan and seeks out new friends in this trendy, rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. Social networking is the engine that brings this multi-cultural group of women together and it is a thematic link that holds together the various conversations and confrontations that happen on one long afternoon. The women are brought together, pulled a part, and some quietly transformed by the opportunities for communication social networking makes possible,” states the synopsis posted on the film’s official website.

The online series, which was well received at the American Black Film Festival in Miami this month, is now live on the web at http://www.Leftunsaidseries.com. Tigist Selam is featured in chapters 3, 4, 8, 14 & 18.

About the Author:
Tseday Alehegn is the Editor-in-Chief of Tadias Magazine.

Watch Related Tadias Videos:
Watch: Tigist Selam’s Interview With Model Maya Haile

Tigist Selam interviewed Maya Haile at home in Harlem on Tuesday
June 15, 2010. (Video by Kidane Films)

Video – Tigist Selam’s Interview with Meklit Hadero

Filmmaker Yared Shumete Wins The 2010 Democracy Video Challenge

Above: Yared’s winning short film depicts a childhood game,
familiar to many Ethiopians, in which two boys take turns
throwing rocks. Shown at left: Ambassador Donald Booth.

Tadias Magazine
Arts News

Updated: Friday, June 25, 2010

New York (Tadias) – Ethiopian Filmmaker Yared Shumete Desalegne has been named the Grand Finalist for Africa in the 2010 Democracy Video Challenge for his original short video, “Democracy is Fair Play.”

Yared’s film depicts a childhood game, familiar to many Ethiopians, in which two boys take turns throwing rocks. If the first boy’s rock is hit by the rock of the second boy, the second is entitled to ride on the back of the first boy, who has to run all the way to where the rocks landed. They throw their rocks again, and switch places whenever one boy’s rock hits the rock of the other. In less than three minutes, Yared’s video illustrates the democratic principle of fair play, according to well-understood rules. Yared told the Ambassador, “I hope Ethiopians will watch my video and vote for it on YouTube. We Ethiopian filmmakers don’t always have the training we need, so we learn by making mistakes. The Democracy Video Challenge encouraged us to try out our ideas and learn by doing.”

Watch Video: Democracy is fair play by Yared Shumete

Source: U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa

Related:
Ethiopia Hosts International Film Festival

Above: The critically acclaimed film “Desert Flower”, featuring
supermodel Liya Kebede was screened at the 2010 Ethiopia
International Film Festival —- held June 14-June 19, 2010.

Tadias Magazine
Events News

Updated: Friday, June 25, 2010

New York (Tadias) – Ethiopia played host to an international film festival, the first of its kind to be staged in East Africa.

According to African Press Agency, the festival – which took place in Addis Ababa from June 14 to 19, 2010 – featured 100 short films from various countries.

The five-day gathering – which was inaugurated by President Girma Woldegiorgisse – “aims at encouraging the use of film as a personal, social and economic tool for development; boosting production of short films internationally, in particular the African continent – in the context of unprecedented growth of the African broadcasting area,” said the organizers.

The festival was staged only days after three Ethiopian films won coveted awards at the 7th African Film Festival in Tarifa, Spain, including in the short-film category.

Among the movies shown at the festival include Liya Kebede’s ‘Desert Flower’, a movie based on the true story of a former African supermodel who rose from a nomadic life to the top of the international modeling business.

Watch the Trailer Here
Video: Desert Flower Movie Trailer – English

Three Ethiopian Films Win Awards at The 7th Tarifa African Film Festival in Spain

Zelalem Woldemariam, Producer & Director of Lezare (For Today), was among the winners. His film received the “Best Short Film Youth Jury Award” (Courtesy Photo)

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Published: Thursday, June 3, 2010

New York (Tadias) – Three Ethiopian films have won coveted awards at the 7th African Film Festival in Tarifa, Spain.

Haile Gerima’s Teza won the “Best Full Length Movie” award, while Atletu, a film about the legendary long distance runner Abebe Bikila produced by Rasselas Lakew & D.Frankel received the “Prize of the Audience” award.

In the Short Film category, Zelalem Woldemariam’s Lezare (For Today), a 12 minute movie which explores the link between environmental degradation and poverty, was the recipient of the “Best Short Film Youth Jury Award.”

The winners were selected from a pool of 15 nominees from over 10 countries by an international jury of experts. They received cash prizes ranging from 2,000 to 15,000 Euro. The competition took place from May 21st to 29th in Spain.

Below is the full list of winners:


7th Tarifa African Film Festival award winners (Photo Courtesy of Zeleman Production)

1. Best Female Actress, IMANI from Uganda, directed by Caroline Kamya

2. Best Actor, FROM A WHISPER from Kenya, directed by Wanari Kahiu

3. Best Director, IMANI from Uganda, directed by Caroline Kamya

4. Best Short Film Young Jury Award, LEZARE, directed by Zelalem Woldemariam

5. Best Short Film RTVA Award, LE ICHA from Tunisia, directed by Walid Taya

6. Best Documentary Film, LES LARMES DE L’EMIGRATION from Senegal, by
Alassane Diago

7. Prize of the Audience, ATLETU from Ethiopia, by Rasselas
Lakew-D.Frankel, and EHKI YA SHAHRAZADE from Egypt, by Yousry Narsrallahr

8. Best Full Length Movie, Teza from Ethiopia, by H. Gerima

Learn more at Festival de Cine Africano de Tarifa.

Related:
African Film Festival NY Features Zelalem Woldemariam’s “Lezare” (TADIAS)

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