If you’re here in Austin, TX with us this week, then you may be enjoying all the SXSW festivities. Music has become such a big part of the culture here in Austin, that it got us to thinking about how music plays such a big role in people's’ lives across the globe. An experience we always love is getting to immerse ourselves in the the Ethiopian culture when we go visit the wells we’re working on in Africa. We’d be lying if we said that the singing and dancing that takes place for all occasions there isn’t one of our favorite parts of our trips.
If you’re heading to any concerts this coming weekend, you’ll have a wide range of styles to choose from. While music is loved in our society, it doesn’t have quite the same traditional cultural roots that it does in many other countries. Ethiopia is a country that is a musically traditional country. While in addition there is still contemporary, or popular music, these musicians and artists still sing the more traditional songs of the country as well. Here in the U.S. people tend to have a music genre they prefer, where most audiences in Ethiopia still choose to listen to both popular and traditional styles of music.
The survival of more traditional music could be attributed to the lack of availability. Much of Ethiopia is extremely poor and the remote villages are hard to access. Because of this, tribes and different ethnic groups are associated with their own unique sounds. Click on the image below to view a video that Jazzy, our Communications Coordinator, took while visiting the Dorze Tribe in Ethiopia in November.
As expected in the bigger cities, like Addis Ababa or Dire Dawa, a wide variety of artists and music is more readily available. Internationally, artists like Gigi have brought Ethiopian music to a more popular and wider audience in more recent recent years, especially here in the United States. Check out The Best of Gigi here to get a better idea of the variety of Ethiopian music today. In true cultural form, Gigi also continues to sing the traditional songs she was raised on. Click here to listen to Gigi sing the the traditional song "Gole" from her 2003 album Zion Roots in Agaw, the language of Gigi's father's village.
So this weekend when you’re out amongst the SXSW crowds, stop and listen to a new artist you might not have made time for in the past. Or if you’re ready for a new experience altogether, dive into the sounds of an exotic new country like Ethiopia.