The former Jano-band vocalist Dibekulu Tafesse was inspired to become a musician after hearing his uncle perform with legends. He saw his uncle, keyboardist and pianist Araya Woldemichael, play in the Millennium Band with Abegaz and Henok and famous artists like Aster Awoke and Tilahun Gessese. He was also inspired by notable Ethiopian musicians like Tesfaye Gebre, Girma Beyene, Tilahun Gessese, and Mohammud Ahmed, as well as John Legend, Al Green, and Marvin Gaye.
In the beginning of his musical career, he was a member of the rock band Jano Band. They made their debut on the Ethiopian music scene in 2011 with the release of their well-known album “Ertale,” which featured the hit song “Ayrak,” in which he participated as a lead singer. He has gone on to pursue a solo career in music since 2020.
Jano Band was able to travel far and even stage worldwide tours with performances in countries including Sweden, the US, the Netherlands, Italy, and the Middle East. They were the first band from Ethiopia to appear on Coke Studio Africa. “There were a lot of hurdles we faced when we first entered the music business, particularly given the state of the business in Ethiopia, but the musical tradition there and the type of music we produced increased our passion for what we do.”
Fan comments filled of passion and gratitude for the music he composes encourage and increase the energy and hope he already has, he says, describing the feeling he gets from the positive feedback fans have given him. Dibekulu is pleased to have been a member of Jano Band since he had a great 10 years with them and they achieved a lot of success in the music industry and inspired a generation of young people with their two albums.
The members of the band all took the step to launch their own solo careers. Dibekulu says that being a solo artist and being in a band are very different in many ways. “As a band, you must deal with the challenges and difficulties that you encounter collectively. However, when you work alone, you have more flexibility to express yourself because you have to make a lot of decisions on your own.”
Due to the partial lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 epidemic in Ethiopia, Dibekulu set out on his first solo adventure. He started working on his album, influenced by artists like Marvin Gaye and John Legend. He was also influenced by the soulful Tigrayan cultural music played by Kiros Alemayehu, Yemane Araya, and Tsehaytu Maraki. His first single, Yelibe Zema, which is in Tigrigna, was inspired by them and released a few weeks before the album.
Dibekulu had a lifelong dream of being able to create music like these musicians and tried to incorporate their influences. The record was completed by him and his crew over two years ago but was never made public. The release was delayed because, according to him, “the ongoing war together with a sequence of events made us determine that it wasn’t the proper moment for the release.”
The songs on the album, which include collaborations with musicians like Lij Michael, Dess, and Meek One, were recently recorded. “They were songs that made me happy the album release was delayed.” The majority of the tracks on the album Yetu Gar Neh, which was released on January 6, 2023, by Kinetic Dawn Multimedia, were written and produced by Yilma Gebreab and Yamlu Molla.
Dibekulu plans to keep working on the music videos for his album’s songs. He also hopes to continue performing live and releasing albums and songs for as long as he is able. He argues that although some musicians create music for financial gain, there are still some who do it just because they like it. For him, it’s about leaving a footprint in this nation’s musical environment and having the desire and capacity to have an influence on others.