We ran into Ethiopian singer and actress Negest Hawaz at our weekly gig with DC Highlife Stars, and she passed us her new CD “Adalalwho.” You never know what you’ll get when a new musician friend hands you their music but in this case the musicianship and production were so tight and intriguing that we called back right away and invited our new friend to the show.
Negest did not come from a musical family and in fact didn’t feel free to start singing publicly until her grandfather passed away for fear of his disapproval. But she couldn’t deny the music in her and has been singing and recording ever since, completely as a self-taught artist. We learned about her teenage days sneaking out to sing with hotel bands in Addis Ababa during the Ethio-Jazz heyday, including stints with legendary Roha Band led by DC’s Ethiopian guitar master Selam “Selamino” Seyoum Woldemariam. She also has pursued a long career acting in over a dozen Amharic-language films many of which are available on YouTube (if you can spell in Ge’ez!).
Negest self-produced her latest CD “Adalawho” in Addis Ababa with stellar sessions musicians and a great young producer about whom she says: “He is young, but so clever.” We agree! The album is all in Amharic, as are the liner notes, but the quality and Negest’s voice transcend language barriers. Sadly however, they do not transcend babylon borders and the CD isn’t currently available for purchase online. If you’d like to receive a copy just send Negest a message on Facebook. She’d be happy to hear from you!
[Click play to hear our interview with Negest Hawaz – September 13, 2017]