The label Awesome Tapes From Africa has never lived up to its name so well as with this reissue of Asnakech, a 1975 tape recorded in Addis Ababa by two icons of the Ethiopian scene: Asnakech Worku and Hailu Mergia.
Asnakech Worku remains an inspiring and powerful figure, almost totemic in her influence. She was an actress and a dancer but above all, she was a musician who quickly established herself as a free spirit by donning eccentric dresses; unwavering in her determination to lead the life of an azmari (bard). She achieved major success in 1952 by being the first woman to play on stage in Ethiopia during Haile Selassie I’s reign.
“Oh! That woman was different,” confided Hailu Mergia, the legendary keyboardist of the Swinging Addis era who joined her for this recording. Indeed, he was rather more intimidated by the owner of the famous Zula Club, who at the peak of his career, invited Mergia to record his organ playing with the drummer Temare Haregu.
This sublime collection combines their music, with Asnakech Worku leading on her six-stringed ancestral krar instrument. Her voice shines on ten tracks concerning love or revolution that are suffused by her hypnotic scales.
Asnakech Worku, Asnakech (Awesome Tapes From Africa)