Alemayehu Eshete, Singer Referred to as the ‘Abyssinian Elvis,’ Dies at 80

As a boy, Alemayehu preferred watching Elvis Presley films and singing Presley songs for his associates at college. Dreaming of stardom in Hollywood, he as soon as ran away from house, hitching a trip to a port metropolis in Eritrea, the place he hoped to board a ship sure for America. His mission was foiled when somebody acquired in contact together with his household and he was despatched house.

Mr. Eshete is survived by his spouse, Ayehu Kebede Desta; seven youngsters; and 6 grandchildren.

As Addis Ababa entered the brand new millennium, its musical previous was revisited as a part of a cultural revival. Younger musicians performed the previous songs with reverence, and lost classics grew to become radio hits once more. Mr. Eshete started performing each Wednesday at a venue referred to as the Jazzamba Lounge.

In 2008, Mr. Eshete and three different notable Ethiopian musicians, Mahmoud Ahmed, Mulatu Astatke and the saxophonist Getatchew Mekurya, carried out collectively on the Barbican in London and on the Glastonbury competition. In New York, backed by the New England-based Either/Orchestra, Mr. Eshete performed at Lincoln Heart’s Damrosch Park.

“Mr. Eshete was at his charismatic best,” Nate Chinen wrote in a review of that present in The New York Occasions. “Each verse began with a single clarion note and then plunged into rapid-fire patter. He tried a few other approaches in his set, like an insinuative croon and a bark befitting his nickname, the Ethiopian James Brown.”

A funeral ceremony attended by tons of was held for Mr. Eshete at Meskel Sq. in Addis Ababa. An orchestra performed earlier than his coffin was pushed away. Simply months earlier, Mr. Eshete’s music had echoed throughout the sq. when he performed there with a band and sang his track, “Addis Ababa Bete” (“Addis Ababa, My Home”).

Mr. Eshete had recorded that tune, a cool love letter to his metropolis, in 1971 together with his fellow musical outlaw, Amha. They offered it from Amha’s defiant little file store, the place it rapidly grew to become successful and set swinging Addis on hearth.

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