Born in Ganda Kore, Dire Dawa in 1947, Ali Birra is a legendary Ethiopian singer, composer, poet and nationalist who has the ability to sing in Amharic, Arabic, Harari, and Somali languages..in addition to Oromo, his mother tongue!! His impressive music career commenced in the early 1960’s and spanned over a good forty years, with his most recent offerings released only a few years back!
The first time he sang on stage was with a performance of Birra dha Bari’e, and it was after this that he acquired the nickname “Ali Birra”, which translates as “Ali the Spring”. From very early on, Ali Birra was the most prominent representative of modern Oromo music. He was part of a golden generation of Ethiopian musicians, performing with the greatest artists and orchestras of the time; but being Oromo he was always an outsider in relation to the Amharic musicians of his time. Yet for many Oromos, he was a hero, fighting their cause at a time where the promotion of Oromo culture was illegal and singing in Oromo language banned. In 1965 the government banned the Afran Qallo group and arrested some of its members, whilst Birra escaped arrest and moved to Addis Ababa. His music was deep and passionate and reflected his stuggles.
Some sources state that he produced his first album in 1971, whilst I have found evidence that his first album was released in 1975? Either way, this is where today’s song can be found (as well as on the 2013 Ethiopiques 28 album, which featured a fine collection of his songs!). I’m not too sure which language Hinyadini is sang in, but the conviction and passion that pours out of this song transcends any language…it’s a beauty! Check it out above.