FolkWorld article by Eelco Schilder:

Minyeshu - a gift for us all

In my opinion, one of the best cd's of 2002 is Meba by Minyeshu. It is a fantastic cd with Ethiopian music in a modern and refreshing style. On Meba Minyeshu mixes Ethiopian music with styles from many other regions, even including some slight Celtic influences. The cd contains a combination of emotional songs and uplifting dances and feels like a long journey to several continents. However, it is first and foremost a journey through Minyeshu's native country: Ethiopia.

Minyeshu was born in Ethiopia and discovered music when she was about fourteen years old. A friend took her to a concert and this first 'live music' experience changed her life. Shortly afterwards, she was given the opportunity to audition for a job as the singer of a band and she got in. For two years she had worked with this group to improve her singing and dancing when she was called by the national theatre of Ethiopia and was asked to join them. This was a difficult decision for her; she knew her parents would not approve because she was still at school and because musicians were not considered to be respectable people. Nevertheless, she decided to join the national theatre and after five months she left her country to go on a big international tour. Apart from working for the national theatre, she also sang with a group called Ambassel. With this group she played traditional music from different parts of Ethiopia. They performed in hotels, for instance, as a means of earning some extra money.

With Ambassel Minyeshu went to Belgium for a few concerts. When she got there, she discovered that she couldn't go back to Ethiopia anymore. She had reason to fear for her safety there and became a refugee. All of a sudden she found herself living in a foreign country, with a strange culture and language, and far away from her family and friends. At home she had been a well-known musician and dancer, but in Belgium she was just another refugee. With some of her fellow musicians she tried to perform regularly, but they never managed to get more than a few gigs a year. Then, about five years ago, she met San Graatsma of Mosaique vivant. San had been told by another Ethiopian woman that a group of excellent Ethiopian musicians lived in Belgium. He contacted Minyeshu, heard her sing and was enthusiastic. He asked her to join the group Africa-unite, in which several East-African musicians co-operated. The group consisted of musicians from Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia etc., who played traditional music from their respective cultures.

Together with some members of Africa-unite Minyeshu formed the group Chewata. With this group she recorded her solo cd that was released last autumn. The cd contains mainly traditional songs that are sung in the 'Minyeshu' way, however. She doesn't want her music to be purely traditional but creates a new sound, bridging the gap between traditional and contemporary music. The cd shows the various faces of Ethiopia, which has many different kinds of traditional music and where each tribe has its own style. Minyeshu intended to give people the opportunity to get acquainted with her native country. Meba means 'present' and that is exactly what this cd is: a present for her family, her country and for the people who want to get to know it. Now Minyeshu lives in Holland and she has started a whole new life here. The cd can be regarded as the conclusion of a difficult and hectic period in her life. In future she would like to do much more with music and dance. She has dreams, too many dreams, but most of all she wants to play with more musicians from all kinds of cultures. Making music together and discovering one another's culture. Minyeshu is absolutely sure about one thing: her next cd will be a happier one.

Curious? You should be! To order this cd or to book Minyeshu for a performance, please contact: :


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