Born in the town of Wollo Raya Kobo in the Amhara region, Sintayehu Belay lost her sight at the age of 15 months. She wanted to be a journalist since she was a child, when she watched and listened to journalists on radio and TV shows.
But she also liked music and would sing and hum songs for her own pleasure.
Sintayehu used to love Aster Awoke’s music, who is one of the artists that inspires her, and she hoped to grow up and be like them one day.
People who know her and have heard her voice have always told her that she should become a musician. Yet, Sintayehu didn’t let that stop her from pursuing her career in journalism; she merely treated it as an afterthought.
It wasn’t until much later that she realized her musical ability could help her break into the music industry. Sintayehu went to high school in Kobo, and then she went to Dessie Teaching School to get her bachelor’s degree.
When she first started her career as a musician, her family, like most, told her she shouldn’t do this and should instead focus on her education. Despite everything, she kept going and started working in music.
“A friend who used to work with me told me that I should sign up for the show Fana Lamrot, which is a music competition. I had never planned to do it, but I decided to do it anyway,” Sintayehu said.
“The first round went great, and I won first place, but the second round wasn’t good enough for me to move on to the next round.”
During the second round, she was criticized for her song selection, according to her. She says that picking the songs was hard for her and that it hurt her in the competition, even in the judges’ eyes.
Sintayehu did not expect to learn as much as she did from the competition, though. Not only did it make her love and passion for music even stronger, but she was also able to learn and grow from what the judges said and how they helped her. She claims she has learned what she needs to add to her musical skills to go further in her career.
After Fana Lamrot, Muzikawi, a record label that works in music publishing, production, and artist management, gave her the chance to record her first EP, working with great artists like Abegaz. Girum Mezmur produced the album.
“It’s not what most people do in the Ethiopian music business. Most of the time, artists only work on full albums or just put out singles. So, I didn’t know what to expect, even though it was an exciting project.”
Tsedey, her new album, came out on December 30, 2022, making her the first woman to have an album put out through Muzikawi, containing five songs for her fans to enjoy.
Sintayehu is very proud of her work, and she thinks that so far it has been received better than she could have hoped. She claims that when she was making the album, the only thing on her mind was to make it for the people. Several people were startled to learn that this was only her first EP, but the reviews were positive anyway.
“I’ve always loved music, but right now it’s one of the few things closer to me than my family. I love journalism and still want to do it someday, but I’m sure that music will always be an important part of my life.”
Sintayehu thinks that music is everything, including happiness, sadness, grief, and everything in between. As a new musician, she hopes that her music will help spread kindness and happiness.