Monday, November 12, 2012
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Wednesday, October 10, 2012
This man is the Oromo icon of our age – our Lionel Richie and Marvin Gay combined. A legend unlike any other; for decades, he has serenaded countless women while showing us guys how to charm women the right way! (Because class and courtship today are fast becoming extinct concepts.) The generation that preceded us danced to his beat while we youngsters would enjoy his tunes if we are not already familiar to them. He is the star that needs no introduction (but in case you don’t know him) – he is the great Ali Birra. Today, as part of our series of "Famous Oromos", I will share this superstar's illustrious history in the hope that you fellow Oromos realize that we have global celebrities that got groove!
Poet, composer, singer-song writer.....Ali Birra, born Ali Mohammed, was born in the Oromo city of Dire Dawa in the Laga Hare Ditrict. In the year 1950, his parents – Mohammed Musa and Fatuma Ali – welcomed their child, not knowing music was his calling and superstar status was his destiny. He had all the traits of a superstar – talent, charm and a passion for singing, especially when it came to showcasing our Oromo traditions and culture. As a young student, he was at home singing in front of crowds, stage fright a word not in his vocabulary. It was at the tender age of 13 when he joined the Urji Bakkalcha, better known as the Afran Qallo music band……..and the rest was history!
It was while singing as a member of this group that he was nicknamed Ali Birra after one of his songs "Birra dha Bari'e" or The Break of Spring in Oromo. He sang songs in a multitude of languages, not only his native tongue. He was able to sing in Amharic, Arabic, Somali and Adere, gaining him much admiration from a host of his singing peers of all Ethiopia's ethnicities. He sang with the likes of Eyoel Yohannes, Mahamoud Ahmed, Tilahun Gessesse and Bizunesh Bekele – even did duets with the late and great Sudanese legend, Mohammed Wardi!
It was during his record-breaking success as Ethiopia's highest paid celebrity that he met a Swedish admirer , who was vice-secretary at the Swedish Embassy in Finfinee (or Addis, whichever name you know it by) at the time. She won his heart and they tied the knot in 1985. He subsequently moved first to Saudi Arabia before settling in Sweden for two years. This exposed him to a world of opportunity and propelled him to international stardom within the Oromo Diaspora. His heart was one always passionate about singing that he pursued a degree in Music Theory at Santa Monica College, California. Even discovery of colon cancer couldn’t extinguish his love for his beloved mistress, Oromo music.
Thanks to him, he put Oromos on the map. Not only is he a godfather figure among the Oromo community, his success is unrivalled in even the state of Ethiopia. To attest that he was honoured an Honarary Doctorate Degree in Music, in June 12, 2010, by Jimma University – a prestigious school of teaching back home. I know it isn’t much, but I feel it my duty to bestow him the award of Oromo Icon of the Century and the first person to feature in our "Famous Oromos" series!
Posted by Oromo Music at 1:28 AM