Home > Music, Profile > The First Lady of Ethiopian Music (Part 2)

The First Lady of Ethiopian Music (Part 2)

Asnaketch/Addis Journal

In 1952 the Municipality of Addis Ababa launched the first department of music and theatre. Nineteen young men were freshly recruited to form the core foundation. Help and inspiration in the theatrical and musical field came from dedicated trainers like Yoftawi Neguse, Mekonen Endalkatchew (then Prime Minister), Kevrork Nalbandian and his nephew Nerses Nalbandian.
Soon two talented young men, Tesfaye Tesema and Asfaw Tefera, wrote and produced “Ye Fikir Chora” (Rays of Love), the first proper modern Ethiopian theatre that told a story through dance and music. There was not yet a female actress who could play the female role. The Municipality Theater by then had a few female vocalists and folk dancers but was missing a proper actress who could play a role in a theatrical production, a foreign innovation. In the few theatre performances that had been staged previously, the women’s roles were played by male actors in female attire.

Find the full story at the Ethiopia Observer.

  1. May 10, 2011 at 12:53 am

    I always enjoy your blog! Thank you for putting this amazing Ethiopian artist on the spotlight! She is an inspiration to all of us and how unfortunate that “She is often lonely and … remains largely ignored and under appreciated.” I wish Ethiopian artists have a (financially) strong support group of their own (like we see it here in the West) so they can reach out to one another in such difficult times, regardless of the under-appreciation they get from society. Thank you again for reminding us of our forgotten pearls.

  2. Berihun Alemayehu
    May 24, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    I have loved Asanketch Worku’s work to the extent that I’ve collected almost everything she has ever recorded, mostly in CD, some of it on vinyl.
    There are not many days that pass without listening to her songs. When I listen to her, I feel a sense of nostalgia, and a romantic connection to the past. There is purity to Asanketch’s voice; a combination of sophistication and innocence and it speaks from the heart. It was certainly better than much of the music we hear today.
    I feel a sense of sadness because, as great as Asnaku is, I don’t think she ever really found her full audience. I think she should be taken as a much greater artist than she is to most people. She is one of the really iconic voices from our era and it was a magic time.
    Berihun Alemayehu, New York

  3. Rahel
    September 1, 2011 at 6:14 am

    Wow, thank you Addis journal for the interesting article, indeed she is a phenomenal, I just love Ethiopian music so much, I would also agree on what my fellow brothers said artist being under appreciated especially those are from the older generation!! Keep doing what you are doing addis journal!

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