Friday, June 12, 2009

Another Ethiopian Songstress

If you're a fan of Aster Aweke or Kuku Sebsebe, you'll no doubt enjoy this cassette by Ethiopian vocalist Martha Ashagari.

Ärä Bakeh (Ambassel Music Shop) was released in 1993 shortly after the fall of the Derg, but Ashagari has been singing professionally since 1988 with the Abyssinia and Roha Bands, and during the '90s had her own nightclub in Addis Ababa. In 1996 she recorded the CD Child's Love/Ye-Lij Fiker, which is available online from AIT Records (I included a tune from it on my compilation African Divas Vol. 2).

Ashagari is notable for her unique vocal tone, somewhere between a sob and a wail. Side 1 of
Ärä Bakəh typifies the '80s-'90s Ethiopian style, but Martha really hits her stride with side 2 of the cassette, especially the emotional ballads "Zoma" and "Ende Näh" and the Tigrinya song "Sälam Bäluläy."

Martha Ashagari -
Ärä Bakeh

Martha Ashagari -
Feqer Näw

Martha Ashagari -

Martha Ashagari -
Bämen Yedanyal

Martha Ashagari -

Martha Ashagari -

Martha Ashagari -
Zoma (Yäbati lej)

Martha Ashagari -
Endäzzihəm Allä

Martha Ashagari - E
nde Näh

Martha Ashagari -
Sälam Bäluläy (Tigrinya)

Ärä Bakeh as a zipped file here. As usual, I'm including a scan of the original cassette inlay card if someone would care to correct my transliteration of the Ge'ez text (click to enlarge):

Update: Thanks to Andreas Wetter for his correction of my transliteration.


matt said...

A quick tip for the readers...if any of you enjoyed last years' Dub Collosus A Town Called Addis then they should check out Invisible System - Punt/Made in Ethiopia....I think you can tast it over here:

Hermano said...

Thank you for this one.
Great tape!

Hermano said...

I have for you Aster Kebede Vol.1.
I don't know the titles of the songs because my Amharic is a bit sloppy lately.
But anyway it's a great tape. Hope you like it.
I got some more tapes if you like I can upload them to.
Greetings from Hermano.


icastico said...

She does have a great voice.

icastico said...


That Aster K. tape is great stuff.

Hermano said...

it was one of the first tapes I bought.
This kind of music is so hard to get your hands on.
Fine you like it!

Andreas Wetter said...

I would like to make propose some corrections of the transcriptions of the Amharic song title:

1 Ärä Bakəh
2 Fəqər Näw
3 Alchalkutəm
4 Bämən Yədanyal
5 Gordəd

1 Dämayle
2 Zoma (Yäbati ləj)

3 əndäzzihəm Allä
4 ənde näh
5 Sälam Bäluläy (Tigrinya)

The last song is not Amharic but in Tigrinya!
(There is a problem in representing the Amharic vowels with an English based orthography because it is not possible to represent the differences between ä, a, ə and e. Therefore I used the signs which are traditionally used in Ethiopian studies.)

So the titel of the album is also not Wara Bakehe but same as the first song. This phrase is an exclamation implying a request to desist, like: you don't say! and is spoken to a male person.

Andreas Wetter said...

John, sorry I oversaw your remark about the Tigrinya song!

John B. said...

Andreas: Thanks for that. The various syllabaries I've consulted when coming up with these transliterations are differ subtly on how to render the Amharic phonemes in the Latin alphabet - hence the inconsistency.

I've changed the post as per your corrections. I'm going to render the "schwa" as an "e," however (for one thing, my keyboard can't come up with a pro-per capital Schwa).