Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou

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Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou (Gəʿəz ፅጌ ማርያም ገብሩ; born Yewubdar Gebru, December 12, 1923) is an Ethiopian nun known for her piano playing and compositions.[1]


Guèbrou was born as Yewubdar Gebru in Addis Ababa, on December 12, 1923, to a wealthy family. At the age of six she was sent to a boarding school in Switzerland, where she studied violin. In 1933 she returned to Ethiopia. During the Second Italo-Ethiopian War she and her family were prisoners of war and were sent by the Italians to the prison camp on the Italian island of Asinara and later to Mercogliano, near Naples. After the war Guèbrou studied under the Polish violinist Alexander Kontorowicz in Cairo. Kontorowicz and Guèbrou returned to Ethiopia where Kontorowicz was appointed as musical director of the band of the Imperial Body Guard. Guèbrou was employed as an administrative assistant.[2]

Her first record was released in 1967. The Emahoy Tsege Mariam Music Foundation has been set up to help children in need both in Africa and in the Washington, D.C. metro area to study music. In April 2017 Guèbrou was the subject of a BBC Radio 4 documentary, introduced by Kate Molleson, entitled The Honky Tonk Nun.[3]


A compilation of Guèbrou's work was issued on the Éthiopiques record label. She also appeared on The Rough Guide to the Music of Ethiopia, and The Rough Guide to African Lullabies. Her music has been described as melodic blues piano with rhythmically complex phrasing.[4] For three decades she lived a reclusive life with only rare performances including one at the Jewish Community Center in Washington, D.C. on July 12, 2008.[5]

Three tribute concerts were held in Jerusalem in 2013 to mark her 90th birthday and a compilation of her musical scores was released. In 2019, an ad campaign entitled 'Coming Home' for Amazon Corporation's Echo Auto and Echo Smart Speaker created by advertising agency Wongdoody features a song by Guebrou titled 'Homesickness'. It is included on the album 'Ethiopiques 21: Ethiopia Song' (2006) on the Buda Musique label.


  1. ^ The Story of the Wind, Ethan Iversons jazz music reviews
  2. ^ "Biography". Emahoy Tsege Mariam Music Foundation. Archived from the original on 2014-02-03. Retrieved 2014-01-19.
  3. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - The Honky Tonk Nun". BBC.
  4. ^ "Ethiopiques, Vol. 21: Ethiopia Song - Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-10-31.
  5. ^ Magazine, Tadias. "Emahoy Sheet Music Project Launched at Tadias Magazine". Retrieved 2016-10-31.

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