The thing I’m enjoying most about the internet these days is that there is so much more out there. A few years ago, when I started AESO, it was a real bitch finding videos to go with my posts because no one had posted any. I’d look for something for “Rod Stewart – Every Picture Tells a Story” and come up with zilch. Then I would have to post a track on a file sharing service and link that instead…and it sucked.
Now, it seems like everything has a video now ….except for Paul Desmond.
And I was surprised the other day to spot my girl Emahoy Guèbrou up an Youtube now as well.
Now I usually don’t play a lot of classical music but Emahoy’s music really doesn’t seem to fit that category either. The best word I can use to describe it is “haunting.”
Born in Ethiopia in 1923, Emahoy was sent to Switzerland with her sister where she studied violin and piano. In 1937, she and her family were captured by the Italians and sent to a POW camp off the coast of Italy. After the war, she continued her studies in Cairo before returning to Ethiopia and eventually becoming the Imperial Bodyguard’s Band music director…at the request of Emperor Haile Selassie. At age 19 she left her home to enter a monastery where she continued to compose music for violin, piano and organ…often for more than 9 hours a day.
She released her first album in 1967, with the Emperors help, with all proceeds going to help orphans of the Italio-Ethiopian War. But in 1984 she was forced to flee her home country because of the repressive view of the new Socialist Government. She moved to Jerusalem where she continued her work, making awesome music that no one had ever heard before.
Her music is unique in that it draws upon 3000 years of Ethiopian history and music and mixes it with contemporary styles to arrive at something between classical and jazz. She is in her late eighties now and is still knocking out new tunes. This album is just one of those amazing works, full of melancholy and longing that kind of stays with you long after listening. This is the only album I could find of hers, a compilation released as part of the amazing Ethiopiques series of CDs . The whole series is awesome and if you are interested in more music from that region, I highly recommend them, as each volume highlights another incredible artist.