Since 2006, Debo Band has thrilled Boston-area audiences with their unique interpretations of classic Ethiopian popular music. Their performances bring together the best of the last forty years of Ethiopian music, with a reverence for the vintage sounds...
Since 2006, Debo Band has thrilled Boston-area audiences with their unique interpretations of classic Ethiopian popular music. Their performances bring together the best of the last forty years of Ethiopian music, with a reverence for the vintage sounds of the 1970s and a commitment to discovering contemporary gems, as well as developing new compositions – they scored the Ethiopian-produced short film, "Lezare," in 2009. The band paid their dues playing neighborhood bars, church basements, and loft parties, and has emerged as an internationally recognized touring band, with performances at two international festivals in the last year alone.
Up until now, Debo Band has primarily existed as a live band, playing at venues across the Boston/New England region. Last year, however, Debo began taking steps towards actively documenting and releasing recordings and is also working with a documentary filmmaker on a project about the band's mission to bring Ethiopian music and musicians to the forefront of world music. Additionally, Debo Band is currently producing a CD/DVD set and LP version of live performances recorded in Boston, New York, and East Africa.
In May 2009, Debo traveled to Addis Ababa to perform at the 8th Ethiopian Music Festival and several other locations throughout the Horn and East Africa. These performances affected Debo Band's creative and professional development in significant ways, particularly in the collaboration they began with several traditional musicians – vocalist Selamnesh Zemene, drummer Asrat Ayalew, and dancers Zinash Tsegaye and Melaku Belay. All accomplished musicians in their own right, these musicians work together at Fendika, a leading azmari bet, or traditional music house, operated by Melaku in Addis Ababa. When working with these four musicians Debo Band grows into a forceful, energetic, and authoritative fourteen-piece ensemble capable of delightful, one-of-a-kind performances. The full ensemble (Debo Band plus Fendika, or "FenDeboKa") recently performed several concerts in Addis Ababa and at the 7th Sauti za Busara Festival in Zanzibar (February 2010).