Seleshe Demessae

Seleshe Demessae is a master of the kirar, a six-stringed, East African, harp-like instrument that dates back more than 4,000 years and served as an ancestor to the banjo. Demessae's instrumental skills are only one aspect of his talents, however. In addition to playing the kirar in the traditional style and in a unique plucking style that uses fingers, knuckles, palms and the striking and jingling of bracelets and necklaces, Demessae has attracted acclaim as a singer, dancer, composer, poet, storyteller, music ethnologist and teacher. Taught the elementary techniques of playing the kirar by his father, Demessae sharpened his skills at the Yarad School of Music. His understanding of traditional Ethiopian culture was enhanced during the nearly four years that he lived in the rural areas of northern Ethiopia. Demessae, who sings in several Ethiopian languages, was heavily influenced by the musical tradition of the Azmaris, troubadours of East Africa. After releasing several albums in his native country, Demessae recorded his debut world-wide release, Songs from Africa, in 1993. ~ Craig Harris

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