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  • TEDDY AFRO: AT THE TOP OF HIS GAME

    Tewodros Kassahun (Teddy Afro), Ethiopia’s best selling artist, controversial, often times poetic at all times talented released his long awaited album – Ethiopia – this week. It has since shot to number 1 in Billboard’s World Album chart – a milestone for Ethiopian music. At home, relaxed, uplifting and vulnerable at all the same time, he hosted Samuel Getachew and Dawit Endeshaw of The Reporter as he opened up on his family, career, Ethiopia and what it means for him to be loved by millions of people around the world. Excerpts:

    The Reporter: Congratulations Teddy on your new album. Since we saw you four years ago, you have become a second time father. You seem more in love with your wife.  How is it different to perform, not just as an artiste, but as a father?

    Teddy Afro: The difference is perhaps felt more by others who observe me when I perform. It is true, being a responsible husband and a father has given me a sense of who I am and where I belong. It has changed me. It has helped me become a better person, a better artiste. It has given me a home, a place to belong. It is something to behold.  It really has been a blessing and a happy experience for me.

    Going to your latest work, inside the album cover, you describe yourself as “Ra’ey” (vision). What exactly are you referring to? Are you referring to yourself having a vision, your country’s vision or something else?

    As you saw for yourself, I included pictures of my parents, my father, mother and a picture of Emperor Tewodros II.  It is to be a remembrance, a memorial. As a child, I called my mother Ra’ey. For me, Ra’ey is to be Ethiopian. Ra’ey is to be given by God. That is what I meant.

    Your album is a hit and has given a sentiment value to your fans. You named your album Ethiopia. What does Ethiopia and Ethiopianism mean to you?

    I have often been asked that question and I have always been frank with my assessment of what it means. I have reflected on it a lot by the way. For me, being Ethiopian is to be free, kind, patient and humble. It is to have and hold on to better ideals for oneself.

    The current generation, sees you as the voice of a generation. Even at the beginning, when you released your Abugida album, you were seen as a voice of that generation. The current generation also sees you, as the current generation’s voice. You seem to have a way with every generation. Do you see yourself as the voice of a new generation?

    I cannot be far from any generation, especially my own generation. I can only reflect on an experience. Mine or others!

    Woubshet Werkalemahu, has congratulated you on your interpretation of the iconic book “Fikir Eske Mekabir”. The book is 600 pages. Do you think your interpretation in a four-minute song is inclusive of the message of the book?

    It’s true, the book is 600 pages and it’s long. I believe I only reflected the main characters in the book, which is the story of Bezabih while he was trying to find Seblewengel. Basically, the song narrates the story of Bezabih from Gojam to Addis Ababa. It talks about when Gudu Kassa helps Bezabih when he tried to find his love. So I have tried to capture this part of the book.

    Was there anyone aside from you who was involved in writing the lyrics for the song entitled Fikir Eske Mekabir?

    No, there wasn’t. I finished both the lyrics and the melody in one night. Then I have made some improvements after. So, except the contribution from the author of Fikir Eske Mekabir itself the song belongs to me.

    Some say you’re all over everything.  Given your popularity and fame people involved in the music industry always want to work with you. So how are you planning to work and mentor those young producers and musicians who want to be the next Teddy Afro?

    Well, when I do my music, I always try to use every possible resource at my disposal. I always want and try to work and collaborate with other musicians. I go out of my way to do that. We have tried many times but effort couldn’t go beyond trying.

    Speaking of your new album, in one of your songs, which is about Emperor Tewodros II, the style of your voice you used in this song is somehow unique and resembles with the tone of the so called Azmaris. How did you come up with the song and such unique ways to capture the unique voice of an Azmari?

    I always found myself attracted with such unique and old voices. By the way, it was not the first time that I have played with such tone. Previously, I played the song by Bahru Kangne. So it comes from emotion and compassion. It was not planned. It just happened.

    When did you write the song about Emperor Tewodros II?

    It has been a while since I started to process the song but there were improvements made on the way. It was this year that I have completed the whole song about him.

     

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  • Ethiopia’s star singer Teddy Afro makes plea for openness

     

     ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Teddy Afro, Ethiopia’s superstar singer, is topping the Billboard world albums chart with “Ethiopia,” which less than two weeks after its release has sold nearly 600,000 copies, a feat no other artist here has achieved.

    Known for the political statements he makes in his music, an infectious mix of reggae and Ethiopian pop, the 40-year-old Tewodros Kassahun told The Associated Press that raising political issues should not be a sin.

    Open debate “should be encouraged,” he said. “No one can be outside the influence of politics and political decisions.”

    Ethiopia is an unlikely place for an outspoken singer to thrive. The government is accused of being heavy-handed on opposing voices.

    During a visit this month, U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein expressed concern about the state of emergency imposed in October after months of deadly anti-government protests demanding wider freedoms. Opposition and human rights groups blame security forces for hundreds of deaths, but the government says they largely used “proportionate” measures.

    The human rights chief also criticized Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism laws, saying an “excessively broad” definition of terrorism may be misused against journalists and opposition members.

    In “Ethiopia,” the songs highlight the diversity of the country’s 100 million people while encouraging national unity. Pointing to Ethiopia’s formative role in launching the African Union continental body in 1963, Teddy said his country should find more cohesiveness at home.

    “A country that tried to bring Africans together is now unable to have a unified force and voice,” he said. “The tendency nowadays here in Ethiopia is to mobilize in ethnic lines, not ideas.”

    In his new album, Teddy sings mainly in Amharic but incorporates other local languages, which has been well-received by Ethiopians as a call for national unity.

    At the same time, some of his songs have been interpreted as carrying political messages against Ethiopia’s ruling elites, leading some fans to say his outspokenness has made him a target.

     

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  • Teddy Afro album release date rescheduled for mid-next week

     

    t might be disappointing for Teddy Afro fans, however his much anticipated fifth studio Album, “Ethiopia” release date has been rescheduled for mid-next week. The album has planned to be released this weekend.

    The procrastination in releasing the album is attributed to a delay in the duplication of the original CD’s, sources told Dire Tube.

    “Ethiopia” single, which is believed to be the title of the album debut released a week before is a much loved melody with having over 1.5 million viewers on You Tube at this moment.

    Unfortunately, it was also early this week that his “Branayie” single from his album has stolen and posted on social medias. “Branayie” was allegedly stolen during the video shooting in Gojjam.

    “Branayie” is about the popular love story of Bezabih and Seblewengel, characters of the late Hadis Alemayehu’s “Fikir Eskemekabir” literary “Love unto Death” novel.

    As an appetizer for fans, a surprise music video of Teddy Afro’s “Biranayie” will be released on this Sunday,

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