The rich culture in Ethiopia has greatly influenced its music as each song has this soulful vibe and patriotic traditional harmony. In a country that has gone through a whole lot of hardships of war and torment, it is not surprising that such profound events impacted their great culture and musicality. Music is indeed a creative way to self expression. Traditional music helps form the foundation of Ethiopian culture and tradition. Ethiopian music basically makes use of just five notes – Do, Re, Mi, So, La but despite the fewer musical notes in use, Ethiopian music is one of the world’s musical sounds that has captured their audience with an unusual way of creating music and lyrics. Because some of the interesting Ethiopian music are in local dialect, not everyone can understand the words, it is expressive and soulful and shows how much they truly love music. Their music not only bespeaks about love between two people, but also endless love for country that is yearning for freedom and the simple life.
Today, Ethiopian music has evolved and gotten better over the years as Ethiopian songs make their way into the international music industry; propelled by music videos and use of modern synthesizers. Here are 20 Ethiopian music you should definitely listen to:
Interesting Ethiopian Music
1. Yene Deha – Mikiyas Chernet
It is a modern song that talks about a man longing for love and misses his partner who has chosen to work abroad. Literally, yene deha means “my poor”. It is a relaxing music that holds deeper meaning and is greatly sentimental.
2. Elelta – Samvod
A feel-good hip hop dance hit featuring a new form of Ethiopian musicality and talent. The music and video shows how the artiste has expressed the influence of hip hop culture that is mostly identified with the west. It is one of the latest musical vibes that surfaces from the modern generation of artists in Ethiopian music.
3. Tew Man Nehe – Sayat Demissie
It is a beautiful music from a fashion model and beauty queen with a song that resonates the fusion of new music and tradition as how the younger generation views it.
4. Alex – Wey Mela Nesh Alu
It is a modern song that focuses on Habesha hip hop music but still carries the great Amharic traditional influence. It is one of the interesting Ethiopian music one can listen to.
5. Alebsise – Zema Sabawiyan
It is the perfect example of what Hadiya music is. The girl group which is lead by Bethelehem Belete showed the world what traditional music and singing is all about.
6. Hasrabum Mesekie- Sayat Demissie
It is an awesome new song with the familiar cool beat associated with Ethiopian music. It mostly addresses the younger audience because of its upbeat tempo and sleek music video.
7. Selamawit Gebru – Konjo Mewded
An ideal example of how the Ethiopian sound has come to be. The video projects various unique dance moves with dancers in purple and white against a yellow background.
8. Yezina Negash – Gedamu
It highlights the great love of Ethiopians for party and self expression. It greatly shows their fondness and love for the good and sweet life. A song from 2009 but remains evergreen.
9. Abby Lakew – Audra / Awo Bel
It is a modern and awesome dance music that evokes their sense of fun. Sang in English and has an upbeat cool tempo with traces of traditional tunes in the background.
10. Fesum Yelesh Acha – TilaHun Gessese
TilaHun Gessese is a late contemporary music artiste who has always shown his patriotism in most of the songs he sang. The song shows great love for one’s country and hunger for freedom.
11. Yageren Libs Lebishe – Nati Haile
It is a great song that comes from a modern music artist that features a new groove and pop music appeal. Yageren Libs Lebishe is one of the coolest ethiopian songs you can listen to.
12. Zeritu Kebede – Yenem Ayne Aytobal
It is a deeply harmonious and meaningful song that shows their passion and dedication to how humanity can help change the world. This song is a call to humanity especially concerning our role to make the world and our community a better place.
13. Bye Bye – Netsanet Melesse
It shows how much they love life and how each one must hold on close to all their hopes and dreams. It is a meaningful song that expresses the pain of separation and loneliness.
14. Ahla Eyun – Sami Berhane
This is an Eritrean traditional music that is more popularly sung in Arabic with a cool and relaxing upbeat tempo. It is one of the songs that is most enjoyable in a relaxing atmosphere.
15. Emhalelu – Mahlet Gebregiorgis
It is a fine example of the traditional music in Ethiopia that is more commonly known as Tigrigna (an Afro-Asiatic language that is spoken primarily by the inhabitants of the Tigray Region in northern Ethiopia (65%) and those occupying the contiguous borders of southern Eritrea(35%).
16. Sela Bey – Jacky Goose
The tile literally means “very good” and shows how much they love the good things in life and the attachments that come with it. This is a song by one of the hottest young artistes – Jacky Goose
17. Yelben Adarsh – Teddy Afro
It is another hip song with great influence of modern pop music and western culture as it is one of the newest songs released this year.
18. Mamaye – Mikiyas Charnet
It’s a great song with the message of expressing love for mother or country and among other songs released by Mikiyas Charnet, this is one of those that calls for responsibility.
19. Alchilim – Dina Anteneh
This Ethiopian music is a beautifully sung piece with fabulous dance accompanying it. The music video is awesome and features Ethiopia’s love for art and dance. The song was released by the beautiful Dina Anteneh.
20. Gojam – Mehari Degefaw
It is traditional music that is simply powerful and interesting. A patriotic song with so much emotion and emphasis on love for their motherland.
Note: We have also included a few Eritrean music in this article since there is some degree of similarity in the comprehensive style of play between the two neighbouring countries.
New Ethiopian Music
With all the progress being made on the music front, it should not be entirely surprising that Ethiopian music has evolved over time. African music, in general, is taking over the world; we have African artistes playing in The United States, United Kingdom and in Canada – and that is something to be proud of. Here are some New Ethiopian music to be proud of:
1. Etsegenet Hailemariam ft. Asgegnew Ashko (Asge) – Mahelando
2. Meselu Fantahun – Welelaw
3. Adera Tigabu – Tolo Ney
4. Gizachew Teklemariam – Ligabaw Beyene
5. Niway Damte (Suke) – Tenesabign
Traditional Ethiopian Music
No matter how music has evolved over time. Traditional Ethiopian music cannot be replaced. Traditional music set the pace and laid the platform for new music to thrive. Here are some that will always deserve their due:
1. Solomon Demle – Mech Ayeshiwuna
2. Gizachew Teklemariam – Ligabaw Beyene
3. Ismael Mohammed – Tenegrolet
4. Fikeru Yilkal – Arada
5. Getish Mamo – Tekebel
Instrumental Ethiopian Music
Instrumental music is always calming, which is why it prefered by many. Instrumental Ethiopian music is one that will always put you in a peaceful state of mind.
Here’s a compilation of some of the most popular music of this genre: