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Art

African Music Campus: preserving continental musical heritages

Wednesday evening kicked off with two musical events that celebrated Ethiopian and African music by fusing cultural and traditional tunes with modern contemporary music. Crowds gathered and danced for the night, wishing the concerts could have gone all night long.

The first, hosted by the Goethe institute, was the third installment of African Music Campus. Musicians from six African countries, namely Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda, gather and practice music for 3 weeks. This collection is made up of instrument musicians and vocalists. Music teachers from various African countries mentored these young musicians.

The aim of the music campus project is to preserve African music and promote cultural exchange within the continent. Funded by the European Union and in collaboration with Erasmus Mundus music curriculum, the project celebrates its seven years since conception.

The musicians dazzled the crowds with beautiful afro-fusion sounds and energetic stage presence. Their performance was followed by multiple demands for an encore from the audience. But the evening was not over yet. The majority of attendees flocked to the Alliance Ethio-Française grounds for a marvelous performance from a band of veteran musical stars–the Abyssinia Roots Collective.

Composed of familiar musicians like Abegazu Shiota on keyboard and Henock Temesgen on bass along with o’s Tommy T. and Zedicus and Admas’s lead vocalist Zakki Jawad rocked the stage with jazz and reggae tunes for the rest of the evening.

The atmosphere was magical: Effoi Pizza catered food and drinks were aplenty. The beautifully lit Alliance compound was filled with hugely diverse audience. Zakki’s melodic voice was joined by Selam’s deeply rich contralto. The lulling reggae tunes serenaded the crowd for two hours until the performance concluded way too soon.

Tommy T. is also a member of the gypsy punk rock band Gogol Bordell. Zakki Jawad is the lead singer of the DC based band Zedicus and a member of the Ethio-fusion group Admas. Abyssinia Roots Collective performs internationally and has been known in reggae circles for over two decades.