We are collaborating with Now-Again, Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom, Cornerstone Berkeley and ArtDontSleep for a 3 night Celebration of Ayalew Mesfin with Debo Band. Debo Band are a large ensemble led by Ethiopian-American saxophonist Danny Mekonnen and fronted by charismatic vocalist Bruck Tesfaye. Since their inception in 2006, the band has won raves reviews for their groundbreaking take on Ethiopian pop music.
Recently in the Ethiopian town of Waldiya (the hometown of Ayalew Mesfin) seven civilians were killed by government military (including a 9yr old child) and as many as 15 were injured while celebrating the second day of Epiphany. This tragedy is another gruesome chapter in what has been a violent period in Ethiopian history as demonstrators have been calling for political and economic reforms and an end to state corruption and human rights abuses. In total, 13 people have died and over 50 people have been injured in similar incidents over the past several weeks. It is customary in Ethiopia after a tragedy to abstain from singing or celebration as people mourn.
Ayalew's heart was broken by this recent news and he has struggled to find an appropriate response that honors his cultural traditions, but also highlights to the world what is going on in his home country. With this in mind he has chosen to limit his role in the upcoming performances as he mourns with his countrymen & women. Ayalew will join Debo band to sing a song of mourning for his people, followed by a full set by Debo band who will celebrate the music of Ayalew in what promises to be an incredible cultural moment of both mourning, protest & hope for a better future for Ethiopia.
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