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Asnakech Worku - Asnakech
Asnakech Worku
Asnakech
LP | 2018 | US | Original (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
22,99 €*
Release:2018 / US – Original
Genre:Organic Grooves
- Backed by Hailu Mergia - Legendary singer/instrumentalist at her mid-1970s prime -
Double LP carefully extracted from cassette and remastered by ATFA family engineer
Jessica Thompson There is perhaps no woman more cherished in modern Ethiopian
history than Asnakech Worku. As a musician, actress, dancer and cultural icon, Asnakech
inspired and challenged society for decades, until her death in 2011. From her beginnings
as Ethiopia's first theater actress in 1952 to her climb to become one of the most famous
actresses at the National Theater to her days as a club owner-turned-master musician,
Asnakech's inimitable confidence and charm made her a household name. She earned
endless accolades across the artistic spectrum. She made seminal recordings of
unforgettable original compositions, as well as legendary renditions of traditional songs,
that became national staples. With a singular sense of style, glamour and sex appeal that
sometimes stunned mainstream society, Asnakech wore clothes no one else wore and
said things no one else said. Staid notions of how women should dress and behave didn't
apply to her. Battling a mentality that until the early 1950s had men wearing dresses to
play female roles in the theater, Asnakech became a national treasure on her own terms.
Her family wasn't pleased with Asnakech becoming an azmari_an itinerant praise
musician who sings, often in bars, for tips_and didn't bother her, especially after Emperor
Haile Selassie I began to emphasize theater and music in society, officially legitimizing her
career. Asnakech became an internationally-celebrated performer of Ethiopia's ancient
harp, the krar, making her one of the most visible female musicians of the 20th century.
All this while leaving controversy, broken hearts and a changed cultural landscape in her
wake. In 1975, keyboardist and bandleader Hailu Mergia got a call from the owner of
Misratch Music Shop to do a recording with Asnakech and he went for it. This recording
is a nearly-forgotten artifact of the remarkable icon's singular legacy, remastered and
available outside Ethiopia for the first time. It also provides a rare glimpse into Mergia's
work as a arranger-sideman in the Addis Ababa music scene. This trio recording
featuring Mergia on organ and Temare Harege on drums using only brushes is starkly
minimal but deeply evocative. The minimalist arrangements ensure the focus is on
Asnakech's incisive_and occasionally romantic_lyrics and her virtuosic krar performance.
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