Yehunie Belay

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Yehunie Belay ይሁኔ በላይ
Yehunie Belay
Yehunie Belay
Background information
Born (1961-12-09) December 9, 1961 (age 53)
Fenote Selam, Gojjam, Ethiopia
Genres Traditional Ethiopian Music
Occupation(s) Singer, Musical Writer, Entrepreneur
Years active 1987-Present
Labels Feker Sound Studio
Associated acts Gojjam Gish Abay Cultural Group

Yehunie Belay (Amharic: ይሁኔ በላይ, born December 9, 1961) is an Ethiopian singer, musical writer and entrepreneur. At an early age, his exceptional musical talent got first exposure in the local kola Dega Damot regional talent group. It was in this group that Belay expanded his musical repertoire, learning among others, the unique styles of the Shankila ethnic group. In fact, Belay’s artistic talent was discovered at early age before he joined the Gojjam Gish Abay Cultural Group with whom he is famously known for.

His first album, Yagere Lij Bal Game was a hit, but it was his second back-to-back hit album Ere Ney Gibe Gibe that earned him a spot among Ethiopia’s renowned folk singers. Starting from his debut in 1987, Belay has risen to become a cultural ambassador of Ethiopia and Ethiopians performing to his fans throughout the world. In addition to his two single hit songs titled "Bahir Dar" released in 2013 and "Yegodelegne ale-Bezoro" that was released in 2011, Artist Yehunie has released six albums to his credit.

Early life[edit]

Yehunie Belay was born to his father Mr. Belay Melese, who was is a farmer and a patriot defender of the people, in the western part of the country known as Gojjam, while his mother Mrs. Tadefalech Eneyew was a simple housewife who raised and took care of the three children.

Belay at the Gishabye Studio.

Yehunie Belay attended his early education in what is called Kes Temheret Bet in his area from the age of 4–7. Then he joined Fenote Selame Kedamawe Haile Selassie Elementary School and further completed his secondary school in 1987 from Damote Comprehensive Secondary High School.

Meanwhile, Yehunie Belay’s musical talent started at early age. He started developing his singing talent back then participating in kids’ musical group at the age of 9. His love for traditional music added to his exceptional musical talent gave young Yehunie a chance to join and grow in his musical rank. He later became to be known as one of the best singers in his generation. All these achievements came as a result of his hard work, dedication and patience developing and mastering the art of music. To become turned into an excellent and finely tuned musician as he is right now, Yehunie Belay has to go through a refinement process of different hierarchical stages beginning at Kebele (local) level, Woreda (district), Aweraja and finally to Kifle Hagre (state) level. Yehunie Belay is also best known for his other gifted qualities as a Music writer, a musical drama creator for many performances- including "Antoyewa"(an Ethiopian Television (ETV) musical drama hit performance loved and remembered for eternity by Ethiopians, as a musical coordinator and group leader. Yehunie Belay developed all these professional capabilities through long years of hard work, learning and his dedication to his musical career.

Early professional career[edit]

Belay with Gishabaye group 1986 at Baher Darr Satduim.

Yehunie Belay’s professional musical career started in 1987 when he was recruited into the Gojjam Gish Abay Cultural Group, a professional troupe that was touring Ethiopia throughout the 1980s and 1990s. It was after his very first televised musical performance of Antuyewa (a dramatic musical act that was so authentic and original to traditional music lovers of Ethiopia), that Yehunie Belay put his great mark in Ethiopian music. His fame extended farther into the Ethiopian Community of the US, Europe and the Middle East.

Present day[edit]

After Artist Yehunie Belay moved to the US in 1993, he released yet other hit albums like Alo-lulo in 1994, Kuku Melekote in 1999, Be-Be Kefilaw Ser in 2001, Yeman Nesh Wubetam (Zegelila) in 2004, Yehunie Belay Classics in 2007 and Zengena in 2008. In 2011, he released a single hit song titled "Yegodelegn ale-Bezoro". In 2013 Artist Yehunie belay released yet another two single hit songs the first song titled "Enquane Des Aleshe" glorifying the Ethiopian National Soccer team upon their achievement. The second single hit song was released in 2013 was dedicated to the beautiful city of "Bahir Dar" which is also the source of the Blue Nile(Abay).

Artist Yehunie Belay is not only a renowned singer, but also the executive director of The Ethiopian Yellow pages Inc., a Washington, D.C.–based online and yellow pages book publication and also editor-in-chief of Bawza, an Amharic English online newspaper publication. Yehunie Belay seizes every opportunity to devote his time and promote the interests of the Ethiopian community in Washington metropolitan area. The young Ethiopian folk singer and entrepreneur, Yehunie Belay is a devoted family man for whom his country, family and profession stands before everything.

Belay presenting his Album Kuku Melekote to Secretary of State / Former Senator Hillary Clinton in September 2000

Besides the respect he commands as a performer & through this family owned publication, Artist Yehunie Belay shoulders much responsibility for promoting the interest of Ethiopia and Ethiopians, especially those in the motherland. He even contributed to the senatorial campaign of the former first lady,Senator & Secretary of State - Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton. In the meeting he had with Mrs. Clinton, he presented one of his hit CD's titled “Kuku Melekote” also reminded her to keep Ethiopia in her heart once she takes her seat in the US Senate. In her personal thank you response letter dated September 15, 2000, from the White House, Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton highly appreciated Yehunie Belay’s “Kuku Melekote” CD gift and stated her pleasure meeting him in person.

An appreciation letter from the White House to Belay for his gift of his album Kuku Melekote

Artist Yehunie Belay’s musical fame and exceptional talent has taken him to almost every state and major city in the United States and Canada. In addition, he has also staged musical performances around the world in countries like Germany, England, Sweden, France, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, the Middle East and Africa.

Academic career[edit]

Artist Yehunie Belay determined to expand his achievement through academic excellence, has attended the American College of Commerce and Technology (ACCT) in Falls Church, Virginia State and graduated in 2013 with Associates Degree in Information Technology. Artist Yehunie is currently enrolled in Bachelors of Science Degree program in Information Technology. In addition, Artist Yehunie Belay has also got a certificate in computer Technology.


  • Zengena |Feker Sound| Released : 2008
  • Yehunie Belay Classics |Feker Sound| Released : 2007
  • Yeman Nesh Wubetam (Zegelila) |Y.T.F. Productions| Released : 2004
  • Be-Be Kefilaw Ser |Y.T.F. Productions| Released : 2001
  • Kuku Melekote |Y.T.F. Productions| Released : 1999
  • Alo-lulo |NT, Inc.| Released : 1994

Humanitarian contribution[edit]

Artist Abebe Melese

When Artist Abebe Melese, one of the greatest Artist in the History of Ethiopian Music, who wrote more than 2000 song melodies and lyrics, was sick due to kidney failure and in need of financial support to get the right medical treatment, Artist Yehunie Belay was at the forefront in responding to this call from his colleague and precious son of Ethiopia.

First Artist Yehunie through his own initiative went to Israel where Abebe Melese lives to see not only Artist Abebe’s health condition by interviewing him but also to documented the whole dire situation the artist was going through everyday on video and share the video to Abebe Melese’s fans and other Ethiopians around the world.

Artist Yehunie Belay, after returning from Israel, with fellow Artist and concerned fellow Ethiopians was the leading force who helped to organize an event here in the USA that enabled to collect a large sum of money for the good cause. Furthermore, Artist Yehunie Belay again on his own initiative and determination to do whatever it takes to see Artist Abbeb Melese back on his feet and on good health condition, went back to Ethiopia to participate on a concert that was organized by fellow Ethiopian Artists in Addis Ababa Ethiopia

Fenote Selam Church

Fenote Selam Church: not forgetting his roots, Yehunie Belay in 2005 contributed a big sum of money for the renovation of Fenote Selam Church. Yehunie Belay, being very close to his identity as a child of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, has also performed in the Washington, D.C. orthodox event organized by famous Ethiopian artists in 2004.

In May 2011, after 24 years (6 years in Bahir Dar and Addis Ababa and 18 years in US) since he left his home town of Fenote Selam to pursue a higher excellence in his musical career, Yehunie Belay was back for a good cause. Now it was the time for him to finally get connected with his roots.

As Yehunie Belay’s visit coincided with a Bazaar held by the town of Fenote Selam, his coming news increased the town’s jubilation attracting more crowd not only from the town of Fenote Selam but also thousands more from the surrounding vicinities. Yehunie Belay was on stage performing for his fans consecutively for two days. The crowd was thrilled beyond imagination whistling, chanting and clapping all the way as their hero entertained them with what they love the most—his musical performances. The goal of “Fenote Gojjam Bazaar” was to raise money for the town’s infrastructures such as public roads, schools and so on. Within the two days of Belay’s performance, more than thirty thousand (30,000) people attended the event and a huge sum of money was raised as a result. Because of Yehunie Belay’s love and dedication to his hometown of Fenote Selam and the high significance of the Bazaar to him personally, he flew all the way from US to be there with a short notice covering all related expenses by himself.

Belay at Lake Zenegena in Gojjam, Ethiopia.

Artist Habtu Negatu (Anemote)

Habtu Negatu (Anemote): When the talented Washinte (Ethiopian flute)Player (better remembered in the Gishe Abay Theatrical musical show Antoyewa) of the Gish Abay Musical Group/ Belay’s colleague and good friend became homeless in Addis Ababa, Yehunie Belay was the first one among the very few who gave a helping hand to bring Anemote back from homelessness into a decent life that he deserves. Habtu died in 2010.

Help orphans in Ethiopia-Croatia Embassy

Croatia Embassy: Yehunie Belay was also instrumental in the 2010 charity event that was initiated by the Croatian Ambassador her Excellency Kolinda Grabar-Kitrovic to help orphans in Ethiopia. On this event, Belay performed along with Grammy Jazz Artist and Jazz Superstar Ski Johnson. Belay on this occasion contributed his musical CDs to be sold on the event and the proceedings to be donated for the good cause.

Athlete Haile Gebrselassie and Belay

In his role as editor-in-chief of Bawza newspaper, an online Ethiopian news network, Yehunie Belay is always involved solving social issues and problems that are closely associated to his Ethiopian community. Through Bawza newspaper, Belay advocates on issues of social importance sharing his lifetime knowledge and experience with fellow Ethiopians.

Major appearances[edit]

In 2007, Belay was interviewed by Voice of America’s (VOA) African Beats program host David Vande. In the interview, that lasted around 45 minutes, Belay talked about his musical career, his family life and other related issues. Belay was also on air (to pass a message of condolences representing Ethiopian and African singers) with Voice of America when Michael Jackson died. In his remark, Belay passed his message of condolences to the family of Michael Jackson and to the family and fans of Tilahun Gessesse, who also died that same week.

Other appearances by Yehunie Belay include:

  • Special guest at Haile Gebresellasie’s residence-
  • CNN coverage on little Ethiopia-
  • Tom Joyner’s son, Oscar Joyner wedding
  • Live Performance 2011 at Fenote Selam, Gojjam Ethiopia

See also[edit]


External links[edit]