The First Lady of Ethiopian Music
Like eyerusalem and Axum Tsion
I saluted before his eyes and his teeth.
Woe unto me to fall for one who can’t be disclosed.
What mess did I involve myself in?
Loving one who belongs to someone else.
Have I come to yearn for him and even his wife at the same time!
Extract from “Ende Eyerusalem” (Like Jerusalem)
She has a combination of emotional depth and versatility.With a voice capable of evoking the joys and pains of life, she has carved a niche as a vocalist, Kirar player, theater actress, and storyteller for over 50 years. Today, 78-year-old and in frail health, Asnaketch Worku remains a living music legend, undoubtedly one of the most important singers in the history of Ethiopian music.
Asnaketch’s deep, rich voice, with her own Kirar (6 stringed bowed plucked lyre) accompaniment, has thrilled audiences for decades. Her tersely poetic, mournful songs and easily remembered melodies touched people’s emotions. Her appearance is striking as well. She usually wears elegantly that matched with her great beauty.
Asnaketch has had a brilliant career as a dancer and she became the first Ethiopian female actress. After her first acting role in 1952’s “Ye Fikir Chora” (Rays of Love), she has come to play over the years various roles from an angel in an Easter play to her portrayal of Desdemona in “Othello”. In her acting careers, she was noted for her willingness to play unsympathetic characters. In many of her roles, she has had angry audiences who came to throw insults, pen, and shoes in her face, even in one case a Coca-cola bottle. The full story at the Ethiopia Observer.