Eyob Mekonnen New Ethiopian Music 2017

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Birth and beginnings[edit]

Eyob was born in Asmara in 1975, during the start of the Ethiopian Civil War. His father, Mekonnen Yalem, was an officer in the Ethiopian Army during the war in Eritrea, which was credited with inspiring him to impart peaceful messages in songs such as "Nekchalehu" and "Negen Layew".[1] He moved to Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, when he was young, and attended school whilst maintaining an interest in music.

Musical career[edit]

He joined a five-person band called the Zion Band, which was described as having a "reggae beat with a distinctive Ethiopian cast".[2] The band became a fixture at popular clubs in Addis Ababa, performing opening acts for popular singers like Haileye Tadesse, who sung songs like "Song of the Dominions" (Hule Hule) and "Anthem of the Movement" (Kebetiye). His musical style was unique, not only mixing popular Amharic music with reggae, but also Oromo popular music, counting Ali Birra as one of his major influences, alongside Bob Marley.[1] In 2010, he released his first album, Ende Kal.[2] Although lukewarmly received by audiences at first, as it differed from the often synthesized, electronic music that had prevailed since the era of the Derg and the demise of the big bands of the Haile Selassie era.[3] Slowly, however, the album gained a following and "great national acclaim".[2]

His songs dealt with issues of and promoted "morality, love, peace and social consciousness", themes that made them popular and hard-hitting.[2] In 2010 he embarked on a campaign called "Finding Peace" to help heal rifts caused by the disputes in the parliamentary elections.

In 2012 he released one single known as "Negen Layew" and Haile Root's song as featuring named "Yalalewin." He was beginning to tour abroad, particularly in Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands.[2]

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