“We are one”: Ethiopian Jazz Meets German Pop


What do you get when meeting German and Ethiopian musicians and mix their styles?

The German Popstars Max Herre, Clueso and the Ethiopian virtuoso pianist Samuel Yirga have tried it.



Samuel Yirga sitting at the piano, his music fills the room. His guests listen attentively: Max Herre and Thomas Hübner, better known as Clueso, have come to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. Clueso, known by German hip-hop, funk, jazz and songs like “Chicago”, is for the first time in Ethiopia. It is for the charity Viva con Agua here and has visited projects that enable rural people access to clean water.


But music stands on its travel program. “It is to make a very different kind of music, the rhythms are completely new to me,” says Clueso. He come from hip-hop, as dominate the four-four time. Max Herrelisten to him attentively. The two are not only colleagues, but also friends.



Ethio-Jazz in the German Pop

Max Herre is one of the most important representatives of German hip hop. Unlike Clueso he was already several times in Ethiopia. A few months ago he even took here to a part of his new album. It includes elements of Ethiopian music direction Ethio-Jazz. “Ethio-jazz has brought me quite a lot of things that I love. He has total power, total rhythm but also a total longing and a certain sadness.”


This fusion of jazz and Ethiopian music was launched by the Ethiopian music legend MulatuAstatke in the sixties. Over the years, the Ethio-Jazz changed, was sometimes more and sometimes less popular. He is currently experiencing a renaissance in Addis Ababa.

“Fighters and exceptional talent”

Pianist Samuel Yirga dominates the Ethio-jazz, mixes it with reggae, dub, latin, funk and classical elements. The Ethiopian loves the versatility: “I hear many different styles of music and has easier for me made with Clueso and Max it to work.” Just Clueso learn very fast and was open to his ideas, says Yirga.


Until well into the evening the three samples together and will be accompanied by Yirgas ten-piece band. The chemistry between the musicians seem to agree and also Clueso is visibly impressed by Samuel Yirga: “. He is an exceptional talent at the piano and a fighter”

The 30-year-old Samuel Yirga discovered early his love for music and for the piano – but he had for a pianist to little finger, it said. Also wanted his parents that he learns something rational – music did not belong to them. But Yirga sat against all doubters by, studied in Addis Ababa Music and is now considered a great talent – with a contract with the renowned international record label Real World Records.

A joint concert, a common song

The German star, he works for the first time. And for the meeting Samuel Yirga has specially brought an idea for a song together: “We are one” – that should be the theme. “In Amharic means ‘and nen’. We are all one and that’s why we are here today,” says Yirga. This common song will soon hit the market.

At a joint benefit concert in Addis Ababa meeting of the German and Ethiopian artists peaked. The audience cheers – and the German musician goodbye satisfied. “I will definitely come back here and as quickly as possible,” says Max Herre. The three musicians want to meet again and continue to make music together. Whether the next meeting will be held in Ethiopia or in Germany, is still open.