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ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Ethiocolor (Addis Ababa) with Courtland Experiment

They damn near brought the house down with their exuberant, dance-filled live set

A dancer performing in Ethiocolor, playing at Le Mondo this September 8 in Baltimore


Oh heyyyyy Baltimore! Another deeply unique live music and performance experience coming your way…


This Friday, September 8, Le Mondo is bringing the “feverish frenzy” and “joyous, sweat-drenched energy” of ETHIOCOLOR all the way from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for one incredible night!


Snag your ticket and learn more about them below!



ETHIOCOLOR at Le Mondo

with C.E.X. Band

406 N Howard Street, Baltimore

Friday, September 8

Doors | 7PM

Show | 8PM

$25




 

Melaku Belay performing in Ethiocolor, playing at Le Mondo this September 8 in Baltimore

Growing up as a street kid, Melaku Belay, an internationally-renowned dancer and founder of ETHIOCOLOR, learned many of Ethiopia’s regional dances through participation in religious festivals, folk ceremonies, as well as the everyday life around Addis Ababa and its countryside.



The rhythmic virtuosity of Mr. Melaku was often astounding. [...] Simply to see him sway his body to the music was a marvel: the angle of his out-held elbows, the pliancy of his spine, the rhythmic point of those shoulders all made their sensuous contributions. A happily superlative artist.

- Alastair Macaulay, New York Times



Belay is also a respected cultural organizer who has made his Fendika Cultural Center in Addis Ababa a famous global gathering place. Fendika Cultural Center arose from Fendika Azmari Bet, a club Belay began to manage in 2008. In Ethiopian culture, an azmari bet is a traditional house of music where people come to be entertained, informed, and sometimes playfully insulted by the azmari who serve as current events commentators while they dance, sing, and play for tips.



Ethiocolor, playing at Le Mondo this September 8 in Baltimore


Since then, Fendika has become a beloved monument to Ethiopia's traditional cabaret culture even as development threatens these cultural spaces. It is from here that Ethiocolor began as the in-house band in 2009 and has continued to build their international reputation.



Every other Friday night in an invariably jam-packed azmari bet (traditional music club) called Fendika in the Kazanchis neighborhood of Addis Ababa, the scorching hot traditional band Ethiocolor holds court. Here, people cram together, sitting on beer crates and drinking tej. Run by Melaku Belay, an electrifying dancer and in many ways the Ethiopian cultural ambassador of the hour, Fendika brings together some of the finest musicians, dancers and singers from Ethiopia’s many diverse regions. At the center of it all is Ethiocolor [...] to get the most out of their music, one must see them in their element at Fendika. There, they kick things off with an hour-long jam that showcases their virtuosic talent and determination to bring the music in new directions, spiking their Abyssinian grooves with funk riffs, Afrobeat and jazz harmony.


Dance and music, both traditional and contemporary, collide within the 9-person ensemble of Ethiocolor. The group draws deeply from the diverse dance and music traditions of Ethiopia, Azmaric bardic culture (traveling musicians who entertained and delivered social commentary), as well as cross-cultural exchanges from around the world.


As a result, the group feels at once culturally specific and internationally resonant.



Melaku Belay performing in Ethiocolor, playing at Le Mondo this September 8 in Baltimore


Ethiocolor routinely shares the stage with traditional Azmaris and jazz musicians. The group also builds partnerships with international musicians such as the Ex (Dutch punk band) and Large Unit (Norwegian Jazz band). The band regularly tours abroad. Its CDs include Ethiocolor (2014), Birabiro (2016), and Dildiy (upcoming).


Melaku Belay received a 2015 French Medal for the Arts, a 2020 Prince Claus Award, and is a 2022 TED Fellow. Lead singer Nardos/Wude Tesfaw is the central character in Stand Up, My Beauty!, a 2021 European film exploring music and gender in Ethiopia.

Invoking ancestral blessings and contemporary experiences, Ethiocolor reveals how Ethiopian music and dance have evolved to transcend time and space.


Melaku Belay performing in Ethiocolor, playing at Le Mondo this September 8 in Baltimore

Says Melaku: “We’re here to remind audiences everywhere of our shared human desire and capacity for peace, love, joy, and justice.”




 


ABOUT COURTLAND EXPERIMENT

Opening for Ethiocolor are Courtland Experiment (C.E.X.) from Washington D.C. The trio is a high energy rock band that brings their own brand of electric energy and unexpected genre blending to the night!






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