Earlier this year I featured a track (a cover in fact) by the great Ethiopian singer/music writer and lyricist, Menelik Wossenatchew. His version of Tezeta is really rather glorious and his vocal tone is as mellow as the sinking sun I now find myself staring at…..that is until he flips it round and injects a little fire into the mix!
With his track, Belew Bedubaye, we have the pleasure of experiencing the deliciously darker side to his vocals. His soaring voice swirls round like helter skelter, spiraling up and down as it gathers an almost mystical energy, and I do find it all rather magic!!
Menelik Wossenachew was born in 1940 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and in 1960 he joined the Haile Selassie I Theatre Orchestra. He was fist hired as a backup vocalist but quickly became a favourite of the director of the Orchestra, the grandfather of all arrangers; Nerses Nalbandian. He spent most of the 60’s and 70’s in various bands as a singer, but was also a writer too! Not only vocally talented, he was a wonderful lyricist and as well as writing for himself, he wrote for other artists too.
Belew Bedubaye (translating as Beautiful Bedubaye) was released in 1971 as the A-side to Tezeta. Issued on Ethiopian label, Amha Records, this is a gorgeous example of Ethio-jazz at its finest, with its entrancing hand-claps and sinuous melody!! Check it out above and enjoy!
Also, if you fancy reading more about Menelik Wossenatchew, I’ve just found an interesting article here!