Aspiring Singer Mikaya Behailu Passed Away

Mikaya Behailu

Mikaya Behailu

Mikaya Behailu came to prominence in the music world with her first album titled “shemametew” which was well received by the fans. Making romance and love the center of her album, Mikaya’s sensational singing ability radiates the emotional content of her music. Her wide vocal range made some Ethiopian fans label her the next Aster Aweke, the unofficial Queen of Ethiopian pop music. Mikaya took her talent to the Kora African Music award in 2010 where she made it into the semi final stage for the best singer competition.

Mikaya suffered recent health complications and passed away yesterday at the age of 37. Mikaya, born and raised in Addis Ababa, completed her undergraduate studies at the Addis Ababa University and was on her way to complete a graduate study as well.

AradaOnline like to express our condolences for the loss of Mikaya.

One of her famous songs – Sebeb


Ethiopian reggae star Eyob Mekonnen passed away

Eyob Mekonnen

Eyob Mekonnen

Born in Jijiga town in Somali region artist Eyob knew his passion in music was too much to ignore. He used to listen different kinds of music but grew fond of two legendary artist that influence his style; the legendary Oromiffa singer Ali Birra and the Jamaican king of Reggae Bob Marley. After singing at local events Eyob got a break through in his career when a band that went to Jijiga for a gig discovered him and  signed him right away as a singer.

He grew his fan base singing reggae music in English and blew up to stardom with his debut album ‘Ende Qal’ released in 2008. The album was well received and his songs remain widely popular till this day. His romance themed reggae album had feature from other heavy weights like Zeritu Kebede and included lots of hit tracks such as “Negen Layew”, “Yene Konjo”, ” Yekebateralu” and “Endatefash”.

Eyob had a sudden stroke early last Wednesday and was being treated at a hospital in Addis Ababa before he was flown away to Nairobi for a better care. After his death was announced over the weekend, other artists and his fans poured their condolence messages on social media sites.

AradaOnline wishes to send our condolence message to his family and fans!

An interview with Artist Eskinder (Alex) Maffi


AradaOnlin had the greatest honor of having an interview with one of the most amazing visual artists . Eskender (Alex ) Mafi , a prominent artist cementing his brilliant style into the realm of art , was generous enough to share his life story and give us an inside scoop of all his pursuits. In addition, Eskinder also shared a word of wisdom for all aspiring artists. The interview says it all.

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High hopes for Ethiopia’s rising classical music stars

One evening last month, the sounds of classical Spain could be heard in an unlikely place: the Ethiopian National Theatre in Addis Ababa. Onstage were the talented students of the Yared School, Ethiopia’s only institute of higher learning for music; directing them was Silvia Sanz Torre, conductor of the Metropolitan Orchestra of Madrid. And in more ways than one, the performance ended on a high note.

“This concert has encouraged the students to continue studying and working a lot,” says Yared School director Tadele Tilahun. “In Ethiopia, there has not been an orchestra concert in the last 30 to 40 years purely formed by students or teachers of Ethiopia.”

Around for over four decades, Yared, which is part of Addis Ababa University, has become a special spot for budding musicians, often fresh out of secondary school. To enrol, candidates must all demonstrate musical talent. But aside from that, each student’s story is unique.

Inspiration from horticulture and Yanni

Take, Eyuel Mengistu. He plays double bass, though this wasn’t the 24 year old’s first instrument of choice. “I used to play the krar, a traditional instrument,” he says about his primary school days. In fact, Mengistu hadn’t even realized he wanted to pursue music until he had already begun a three-year study in horticulture – that’s when he started on the keyboard and that’s what led him to Yared.

“When I got accepted, I wanted to study piano, but there were too many students with the same preference,” he recalls. “Then I chose trumpet. But after six months, I decided to play double bass.”

After five years, Yared students are expected to have completed their studies, earning Bachelor of Art degrees. Most students are reported to find jobs as classical musicians.

Selamawit Aragaw is a case in point. “I have been an assistant at the Yared School and … will start being a lecturer,” she says. “But apart from that, I give a lot of violin private lessons and I have a quartet with which I play in different hotels.”

Aragaw’s career also began at Yared. “When I was 16 years old, I used to watch a programme on the TV every Saturday with a big orchestra conducted by the Greek musician Yanni,” she says. “From that, I knew I wanted to be violinist.” As the now 27 year old explains, around this time an ad for the Yared School caught her eye. And the rest is history.

Looking ahead

Mengistu, the bassist, has yet to complete his studies. But when he does, he, too, plans to pursue teaching. “Also, I would like to be a composer and start playing the double bass on stage in jazz places,” he says.

Until then, he is reliant on Yared. “Me and my friends can only study in the school, because the school lends the instruments, but we cannot bring them out from there,” he explains. Those, like Mengistu, who cannot afford the full tuition of 25,000 birr (about 1,000 euro), can take out a government loan, which they are expected to pay back once they begin working.

The school director notes other limitations. “The challenges are still big,” says Tilahun, “the students cannot afford acoustic instruments, which are expensive and difficult to find, so it is the school who needs to provide them. Also, the manpower is limited, so the quality and quantity need to be improved in order to maintain the increase of interest in classical music in Ethiopian society.”

But if the students at Yared are any indication, Ethiopia’s new generation of classical musicians has sweet-sounding career prospects. According to Aragaw, the violinst: “If you are active, classical musicians can work in different things in Ethiopia.” Her to-do list includes nothing less than giving solo concerts, going on tour and “finally to have my own music school”. [RNW, Photo – Borja Santos Porras]

Ethiopian Artists threw a surprise party for Teddy Afro in DC

Prominent Ethiopian artists in Washington DC have thrown a surprise party for Teddy afro who made a stop in the town for his world-wide tour. Teddy started his ‘Tikur Sew/ Wede Fikir’ concert tour in Addis Ababa on October 20 and continued to rock the crowd in Hawassa on November 3 before leaving to Atlanta for his third stop on Nov 21. Teddy entertained his DC fans last friday Nov 23 in a sold out show with songs selected from his new as well as old albums.

The surprise party for teddy afro included famous singers such as Yehune Belay, Abonesh Adenew and Kuribachew. Teddy also spent time with Ethiopian Kids in the area yesterday. Check for more pics on his official facebook page.

Book Review: Long Walk To Freedom

The official autobiography of Nelson Mandela

All the top media outlets gave this autobiography of the Nobel Peace prize winner Nelson Mandela five stars. Los Angeles Times labeled it “Irresistible” and added that “Long walk to Freedom must be one of the few political autobiographies that’s also a page-turner”. Newyork Sunday Newsday described the book as “Long walk to Freedom is one of those rare books that  become not only a touchstone but a condition of our humanity”.

After my reading habit slipped away due to various reasons, I decided to get back to my reading ways with the autobiography of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, one of the greatest people ever to grace our world. The memoir takes a reader on a journey from the truly African way of life at his birth place Transeki to his arrival in Johannesburg at his late teens, from his observation of the traditional high rank council of parliamentarians in his village to the speech he gave at the American Congress and keeps one tied to the book as it discusses his transformation from the first African legal councilor to the most wanted man in South Africa.

Each chapter raises a number of stories, events and decisions that later shape the first democratically elected President of South Africa. His keen observation, evaluation  and decision-making skills are quite impressive and educational for any reader that picks up the book. One of my favorite involves Mandela comparing the way white and black families help their kids gain knowledge. In there states

Like all Xhosa children, I acquire knowledge mainly through observation. We were ment to learn through imitation and emulation, not through questions. When I visited the homes of whites, I was often dumbfounded by the number and nature of questions that the children ask of their parents – and their parents’ unfailing willingness to answer them. In my household, questions are considered a nuisance; adults imparted information as they considered necessary.

After completing his education to become a lawyer, Mandela slowly moved into politics and started ascending to the helm of the African National Congress which led the struggle against apartheid. When non violence struggle policy of the ANC were crushed heavily by the regime, Mandela started a clandestine armed movement and visited a number of African countries to get assistance. It is then when Mandala visited Ethiopia and got his military training from his Ethiopian trainers Lieutenant Wondoni Befikadu and Colonel Tadesse. Even though he visited a number of African countries, Mandela couldn’t hide his special affection to Ethiopia.

Mandela’s Ethiopian Passport

Ethiopia has always held a special place in my own imagination and the prospect of visiting Ethiopia attracted me more strongly than a trip to France, England and America combined. I felt I would be visiting my own genesis, unearthing the roots of what made me an African. Meeting the emperor himself would be like shaking hands with history.

His long-lasting struggle at the later part of the books discusses the extremely sinister nature of apartheid and makes a reader feel sorry for Mandela and his people but at the same time admire his strength to finally came out victorious taking different challenges everyday. His top-notch debating, mediating and negotiating styles are there to see at different chapters of the book. For example  during a secret negotiation with apartheid for a peaceful solution he was non compromising on some essential points and at the same time the other party was accusing him of being a communist. When straight forward denials didn’t satisfy his opponents, Mandela’s sharp mind came up with this witty but powerful reply to the accusations:

You gentlemen consider yourself intelligent, do you not? You consider yourself forceful and persuasive, do you not? Well, there are four of you guys and only one of me, and you cannot control me or get me to change my mind. What makes you think the Communists can succeed where you have failed?

My only reservation was that the later section of the bio seemed a bit rushed but all in all it is a must read book especially for Africans and people with ambitions in politics or legal system.

Happy Birthday to the legendary Ali Birra

His gifted voice, lively charisma and powerful stage presence made him stand out as one of the legendary Ethiopian and Oromiffa musicians. Born in Humbanna, Dirre Dhawa on May 26, 1948, Ali Birra started a journey to musical stardom by giving shows to family and classmates and listening to both local and international music. He took advantage of the multicultural nature of Dire Dawa and was able to sing in Arabic, Oromiffa, Harari and Somali.

Ali joined a band  known as  Afran Qallo cultural group in 1962 which was then operating unofficially to promote the Oromo music and culture. Because there was another Ali in the band, the group gave him the name “Ali Birra” meaning “Ali the Spring” from the first song that he sung on stage called “Birra dha Bari’e” . He moved to Addis Ababa and played with different bands until he left Ethiopia in 1984 with his diplomat wife. Leaving the country didnt stop Ali Bira’s music career as he continued to enthrall his fans with a number of albums and live performances in different parts of the world including Ethiopia.

Ali Birra’s illustrious career and his unique melody and singing style made him stand out as one of the greatest. His timeless classics still remain to be favored by many in Ethiopia and AradaOnline wishes Ali a Happy Birthday. View full Article to enjoy a few of his classic music here. [, image via Wikipedia]

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