Biography of Aster Aweke (1961-VVVV)

Ethiopian singer, born in 1961 in a small village near Gondar, the ancient capital of the country. Compared with Aretha Franklin and said it is the Sarah Vaughan of Africa, American references for trying to define one of the most powerful voices of Africa with notable influences from Western jazz. If Mahmoud Ahmed is the best-known male voice of Ethiopia, Aweke would be his female equivalent.


His father was an imperial official of Haile Selassie's regime, which allowed him to have sufficient contacts to integrate, as Apprentice, the best Orchestra of the moment: the Roha Band.

The emperor was its low hours and which in principle had been an aid became a serious obstacle when Colonel Mengistu Haile-Mariam established its strict military dictatorship.

Ethiopia was then a very modern and rich country musically. The famine came later. Ethiopian African soul bands were competing to be the best in the continent, along with the Senegalese. Ethiopian music in the seventies was masterful, powerful singers in the vein of James Brown, a very energetic rhythms of conception, and arrangements of the instruments of metal similar to that you could hear in Memphis. Aster Aweke was in that wave, but powerfully influenced by Bezunesh Bekele, the Ethiopian artist known and most famous of the moment.

Before being famous Aster Aweke spent a few years of hard work. It was "discovered" by Ali Tango, a local producer who recorded his several cassettes and a pair of singles. Those issues were that gave him fame and allowed him to deal with as soloist in the Roha Band, who accepted it in 1978. These recordings were recovered in the 1990s in a collective album "Ethiopian groove: the golden seventies" (Blue Silver).

The military dictatorship became unbearable and Aweke emigrated in 1979 to the United States. Along with his family, settled among the diplomatic community of Washington, DC. He/She had to start from scratch and to regain the fame from the beginning. He/She performed in clubs and restaurants for ten years with a repertoire to jazz and rhythm and blues, until he/she realized that the only way was to succeed was to return to their African roots. When it combined its Ethiopian past with the forms he/she had learned in the United States it is when the world set on it.

In 1989 he/she released an exceptional album, "Aster", where mixed knowledge. There the krar or Ethiopian harp could be heard along with other high-tech funk rhythm instruments. It was an immediate success, so much that the multinational Columbia decided to launch its next production appeared two years later with the title of "Kabu". Aweke wanted to deepen more in the tradition of their country of origin and in 1993 published his masterpiece, "Ebo", recorded in Virginia but designed to be edited in Ethiopia. In fact Aweke presented it there with great success. Today his warm, peculiar voice is as well known in Africa as in North America and perhaps Europe is the continent least where recognized.

Selected discography

Kabu. 1989(Triple Earth) Aster. 1991 (Columbia) Ebo. 1993 (Barkhanns)