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Netsanet Melesse in 2013

Netsanet Melesse has a new album

This is an album released in January 2013 by a veteran Ethiopian artist who was one of the shining stars of Ethiopian music decades ago.  With the release of this brand new album, and at 52 years of age, Netsanet Melesse has just proved that she is still a shining star.  She shot to stardom after her remarkable 1984 hit song Arenchatta.


Apart from a rather lengthy disappearance from the limelight, over the years, she continued being the remarkable and gifted singer that she is, released some solo and collaborative albums, settled in North America, got married, became a Mom and just when you thought Netsanet Melesse was a singer from the past, she is back looking and sounding fresh.


The thing about creating an album is that it gives the adventurous artist the opportunity to discuss creatively an array of issues – besides issues to do with love and relationship.

And the enduring challenge for artists is to find new, emotive and thought-provoking ways to make their contribution to the discussion of issues and ideas.



One of the first things you will notice when you start listing to Netsanet Melesesse’s new Album Leben is that it greatly qualifies as a substantial album that makes you think about things differently.


If you go straight to track number seven, you will find a wonderful tribute to Ethiopian craftsmen, who have been dressing up Ethiopians in style the Ethiopian way for thousands of years.


This is a song about Ethiopian weavers and their elaborate embroidery and the art and beauty of their handwork.

As far as we can remember, songs have been sung to praise Ethiopian farmers, teachers, soldiers and even journalists, but never have there been a song about Ethiopian craftsmen – until now.


Ethiopia, the country, and its modern-day shortcomings have been a subject of criticism by many artists and Netsanet has a song of subtle criticism in this album for Ethiopia and its people.


In song number 10, Netsanet poses the question of how a country that many worked very hard for to guarantee its cohesion can end up in the state of disunity that the country now finds itself.


The song points to the fact that Ethiopia, as one of the oldest countries in the world, went through a lot of turbulence in its past and the current era was supposed to be the era of stability with trust and compassion to spare.  The underlying message of this great song, which features the sounds of the traditional Ethiopian instrument of Kirar, is that it is about time Ethiopians have come together and lived in peace and harmony.


As you listen forward to song number 12, you will find Ethiopia remains the subject matter.  But this time, it is a celebration of the country’s new era and Ethiopia is celebrated like a bride – the name of the song translates to “Bride Ethiopia”.


There are also plenty of love songs in this album not only to entertain you, but also to make you see love differently.  If you are a love song lover, we would say you couldn’t listen to track number one or two or three or eight or 13 without being very moved by them.


This is an album that has achieved the perfect balance between style and substance.  The lyrics are wholly substantial and they are delivered just beautifully.


Netsanet started out singing English songs at clubs in Addis Ababa.  Her unique voice allowed her to be adventurous.  29 years after Netsanet released her first album Arenchatta, her unique voice is not only intact, but also somewhat more powerful.


The quality of this new album is admirable and inspirational and everyone who is a part of its production should be very proud.



We give the album the following stars:


Befekir Kebede | Thursday,  31 January 2013



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