Before whatever forces refugees to flee, their culture and history shape who they are and what they bring to their new lives in the U.S. In 70’s Ethiopia toward the end of Haile Selassie’s 1930 – 1974 reign, Mulatu Astatke blended western jazz with traditional Ethiopian music into a genre known as Ethio Jazz. I can’t stop listening to it.
Obscure? Maybe. But still influential. You can recognize the song Yegelle Tezeta (featured below) in samples from Somali Canadian refugee artist K’naan. Nas and Ziggy Marley have sampled Ethio Jazz, too. Astatke songs were also featured in the 2002 Jim Jarmusch film Broken Flowers.
And, if you want to learn more about Haile Selassie to put the music into the context of Ethiopia’s rich history, check out The Emperor, a 1972 book by Ryszard Kapuscinski.
(On occasional Fridays, we highlight one entertainment option related to our clients or some aspect of our work to help you celebrate the weekend and possibly recommend to employers and other community supporters in the following week.)