Wow. This week we were doubly graced with a visit from Grammy-nominated Ethio-American singer-songwriter Wayna and legendary Ethiopian music guitarist Selamino Woldemariam. Where to start? Wayna burst on the national scene in 2004 with her critically acclaimed debut album, “Moments of Clarity, Book 1” and followed up in 2008 with “Higher Ground” including the single “Loving You (Music)” which was nominated for a 2009 Grammy in the Best Urban/Alternative Performance category. Not too shabby for an independent release! Wayna has also worked as a writer in the Clinton White House, and sings backup with Stevie Wonder’s touring group. She resides in the Washington DC area where she was raised and attended college, and is currently preparing a tribute to legendary Ethiopian songstress Bizunesh Bekele set for June 9th at Bethesda Blues & Jazz. Not to be missed!
When we asked Wayna to come on the show she mentioned she might bring a guitarist to perform a track with her. We were delighted of course, but then stunned to learn that she was coming with none other than Selam Seyoum Woldemariam (a.k.a. Selamino), a true legend of the Ethio-Jazz heyday and co-founder of seminal groups Ibex Band and Roha Band. These two bands dominated the scene in 70s Addis Ababa, holding down the city’s top night spots and recording over 250 albums through the years. Yes, you read that right, 250 albums and counting! Selamino now lives in the DC area where he produces and continues his research into the history of Ethiopian music. You can catch him live with his combo every Friday night at Enjera Restaurant in Arlington.
DC’s African music scene never ceases to amaze and humble, and to have these two bonafide stars on the Jolly Papa show was a real treat. Just to meet them and feel their positive energy and down-to-earth vibe was a wonderful experience, but the coup de grace was their live-in-the-studio performance of Bekele’s classic tune “Migoten Manyawkal” with only voice and guitar [starts @ 10:30]. So sweet! We hope to have them back soon to learn more about their lives and creative process.
[Click play to hear our interview & performance w/ Wayna & Selamino – April 12, 2017]