Nicknamed the “Ethioopian Elvis”, Alemayehu Eshete is considered the golden voice of Ethopia, and once you hear him sing, you’ll know why he has gained such a moniker!
Ever since his first hit single, Seul, in 1961 he has become the father figure of the soulful stream of Ethiopian sounds, possibly second only to Mulatu for his appeal to funk and soul fans in the 21st century! No other musician in Ethiopia adapted the newest trends from the US soul scene as consequently as Alemayehu did!
In the mid-60’s he founded orchestra Alem-Girma Band with Girma Beyene and over the course of 15 years, Alemayehu released some 30 singles until the arrival of the communist Derg junta, which forced Alemayehu and many other artists into exile. Alemayehu Eshete has since gained fame in Europe and the Americas with the release of French label, Buda Musique’s Ethiopiques series of compilations. Ethiopiques Volume 9 is devoted entirely to recordings of Alemayehu’s earlier music, and Volume 22 covers his career between 1972 and 1974. Other songs have also appeared on Volumes 3, 8, 10, and 13 or the series. In 2008, Alemayehu toured the U.S with fellow Ethiopian singer Mahmoud Ahmed, backed by Boston’s 10-piece Either/Orchestra and, from what I can gather, is still active today!.
Nèy-nèy Wèlèba featured on the Ethiopiques 22 album, which meant it was originally recorded between 1972-1974. I don’t think I’ve heard a song quite as menacing and edgy as this, but don’t take this as a negative, this ominous buzz is divine! Each musical entity takes you on its very own tangent; the drums shuffle and shift with an infectious urgency, the bass, sinister-yet-enticing, propels the speed and the vocals steer this runaway jaunt like the devil himself; the luring “aah’s” are something that you won’t get out of your head! Check it out above.