Alemayehu Eshete

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Alemayehu Eshete
ዓለማየሁ እሸቴ
Alemayehu in 2010
Alemayehu in 2010
Background information
BornJune 1941
Addis Ababa,[1] Occupied Enemy Territory Administration
(now Ethiopia)
Died2 September 2021(2021-09-02) (aged 80)
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Years active1960s–2021
LabelsBuda Musique

Alemayehu Eshete Andarge (Amharic: ዓለማየሁ እሸቴ አንዳርጌ; French pronunciation: Alèmayèhu Eshèté; June 1941[2] – 2 September 2021) was an Ethiopian singer. He had performed since the 1960s and primarily in Amharic. He had been nicknamed "the Ethiopian Elvis".[3][4]

Early life and career[edit]

Alemayehu was born in June 1941 in Addis Ababa, where his father worked as a taxi driver.[5] Alemayehu talent was recognized by Colonel Retta Demeqe, who invited the young singer to perform with Addis Ababa's famous Police Orchestra. He had his first hit "Seul" in 1961 before moving on to found the Alem-Girma Band with Girma Beyene.[6] Over the course of 15 years, Alemayehu released some 30 singles until the arrival of the communist junta Derg. Alemayehu continued working as a musician under the Derg and was once ordered to perform in Korean for Kim Il Sung.[5]

Alemayehu gained fame in Europe and the Americas with the release of Buda Musique's Ethiopiques series of compilations on compact disc. Ethiopiques Volume 9 is devoted entirely to recordings of his earlier music,[7] and Volume 22 covers his career between 1972 and 1974. Other songs have also appeared on Volumes 3, 8, 10, and 13 or the series. In 2008, Alemayehu toured the United States with fellow Ethiopian singer Mahmoud Ahmed, backed by Boston's 10-piece Either/Orchestra.


Alemayehu died at midnight on 2 September 2021 in a hospital located in Addis Ababa. He was spending his last days with his friends and complained about discomfort after going home at 7 a.m (local time). Some sources indicate that he had been suffering from heart disease. He was buried on 7 September at Holy Trinity Cathedral. Before his body was transported to the cathedral, a farewell ceremony took place at Meskel Square with tens of thousands of attendants, and his two songs "Temar Lije" and "Addis Ababa Bete" were played for tribute. He is survived by seven children and six grandchildren.[8][9]


Album list
Addis Ababa
  • Released: 1992
Compilation albums
Ethiopiques, Vol. 9
  • Released: 2001
The Rough Guide to the Music of Ethiopia
  • Released: 2004
Ethiopiques, Vol. 22 (1972–1974)
  • Released: 2007
The Rough Guide To Psychedelic Africa
  • Released: 2012
The Rough Guide to the Music of Ethiopia
  • Released: 2012


  1. ^ "Alèmayèhu Eshèté obituary". the Guardian. 10 September 2021. Retrieved 20 July 2022.
  2. ^ Jacques Denis (3 September 2021). "Mort de Alèmayèhu Eshèté, showman brûlant d'Éthiopie". Libération (in French). Retrieved 4 September 2021.
  3. ^ Gordon, Oliver (1 April 2016). "Notes from Ethiopia: the jazz revival in Addis Ababa". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  4. ^ Presenter: Courtney Pine (10 May 2014). "Swinging Addis". The Documentary. BBC. BBC World Service. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  5. ^ a b Vadukul, Alex (2 October 2021). "Alemayehu Eshete, Singer Known as the 'Abyssinian Elvis,' Dies at 80". The New York Times. p. A20. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  6. ^ Richards, Chris (12 October 2016). "Girma Beyene, a titan of Ethiopian jazz, returns to Washington". The Washington Post. Washington, D.C. Retrieved 4 May 2017.
  7. ^ ETHIOPIQUES VOLUME 09 on Buda Musique Archived 7 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved 10 September 2012.
  8. ^ Admin (3 September 2021). "Alemayehu Eshete, "Ethiopian Elvis Presley", reportedly died". Borkena Ethiopian News. Retrieved 3 September 2021.
  9. ^ Admin (8 September 2021). "Alemayehu Eshete laid to rest at Kiddist Selassie Menbere Tsebaot". Borkena Ethiopian News. Retrieved 8 September 2021.

External links[edit]