Rototom Sunsplash is the largest European reggae festival, and according to some estimates, the largest reggae festival in the world which over the course of 10 days has over 300,000 tickets sold, with over 2000 journalists covering the event, and close to a million people worldwide following the festival on TV, radio and over the internet. Founded in 1994 and inspired by the legendary Jamaican Reggae Sunplash festival, it takes place every summer at Benicassim, a few miles north of Valencia in Spain.
Rototom is more than a festival, it is a gathering of people dedicated to address the public’s social, entertainment, social, and political agendas. Since 1994, Rototom has had almost 2 million people attending from 130 different countries around the world, since 1994, Rototom has had 2500 shows 15,000 artists/sound/management from 120 countries from Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia, North America.
Now, the Rototom organizers have extended an invitation to showcase and highlight Ethiopian reggae artists at the August 2017 edition which is being organized under the theme “Celebrating Africa”. This is a unique and valuable opportunity to promote Ethiopian musical artists and promote Ethiopian products, culture and Ethiopia as a destination for travelers.
A briefing on the event was given by Mr. Borja Montesino Martínez del Cerro the Ambassador of Spain in Ethiopia, Mr. Walter Rizzi a producer, club owner, artistic director and booking agent currently managing Villa Verde, Ato Yohannes Tilahun CEO of Ethiopian Tourism and Ato Addis Zeleke, Artist manager, club owner, producer and a leading light of the Ethiopian music scene, along the artists representing Ethiopia at the concert yesterday 13th June, at the Villa Verde Restaurant. Later on the event, Sydney Solomon along the Majestic band and Mahlet, performed series of songs during the lunch program.
Music, often called the universal language, is an important means of promoting a country’s brand and image as well as the different commercial brands and products of a nation. With that in mind, and to help promote the Ethiopia brand, our Production Team has developed a long term project called “Ethnopia”.
Ethnopia is a brand that will present Ethiopian music and culture worldwide. Ethnopia Music Ambassadors is a unique touring project that brings together some of the top Ethiopian reggae instrumentalists with leading practitioners of traditional Ethiopian instruments such as the masinko, the krar, and kebero. Ethnopia will back up the lead vocalists, a musical Dream Team of some of the best in Ethiopian reggae artists, with Jonny Raga, Haile Roots, Sami Dan, Henok and Mehari brothers, Chelina, Tesdi, Ras Yohannes and Yohana at Rototom and be available to tour and perform at other reggae or world music festivals and venues. It will be a bridge to the final phase of the project as they develop a world music festival to be held in Ethiopia. The project is envisioned as a four phased approach;
- Road to Rototom – event activation in Addis Ababa where they promote the artists going and the sponsors/partners in advance of events in Spain. The Road to Rototom will encompass a series of events in Addis Ababa in the months leading up to the artists’ departure to Europe to perform at Rototom. The performing artists will perform a regular series of concerts at Villa Verde which will be documented in a variety of ways – audio recordings, photography, and film. Selected footage from these shows will be made available on social media pages to build buzz and awareness regarding the event in the time leading up to the event. This footage and social media blasts and feeds will be linked to the main Rototom Festival page to build synergy between the events in Addis and provide media and fans who will be attending Rototom, a chance to see and hear the Ethiopian artists in advance of their Rototom appearance.
- Ethiopia at Rototom – the festival itself where main stage performances by artists will be placed in the context of Ethiopia by Ethiopian booth presenting/promoting the partners and sponsors and their products/services. The Ethiopian Booth at Rototom will offer a beautiful modern vision of Ethiopia designed to attract members of these various communities to the home stand, and introduce them to Ethiopia.
Fly Ethiopian – Ethiopian Airlines and Ethiopian Tourism will have an ET ticket booth at Rototom to promote Ethiopian tourism and allow for tickets to be sold at the festival while visitors are enjoying the Ethiopian booth.
Addis A/V Club– Planned a curated series of audio/visual projections featuring Ethiopian related music videos, travel documentaries, and other visually appealing footage. These projections can be broken up by “commercial breaks”, featuring ads and promotional material for the partner’s products.
DJ Corner– At any given time, we will have a DJ playing a mix of Ethiopian music, from traditional to the classic pop of the 60s and 70s, to modern pop and reggae.
Showcase Stage– Rototom Ethiopian artists will be available to meet journalists and fans at the booth when they are not performing on stage. This will give fans another opportunity to connect with their music in a smaller setting and also make it easier to set up interviews and press meetings between journalists and the artists.
- Jonny Ragga– Ethiopia’s first home grown reggae artist.
- Sami Dan- Samuel Berhanu, popularly known as Sami Dan is a hot new artist on the Ethiopian reggae scene.
- Haile Roots- Haile released his first album ‘CHIGGAE’ in 2012 and the album quickly became one of the best-selling albums of the year featuring his smash hits “Bado neber”, “Chiggae” and “Netsuhe Quanquayen”and with collaborations with Luciano, Mikey Dread, and the celebrated Ethiopian musician Teddy Afro.
- Henock and Mehari Brothers– before the Mehari Brothers emerged on the Ethiopian scene, singers usually received the most attention at live shows, with bands relegated to a backup role. This band, led by brothers, established the band itself as a star attraction.
- Tsedeniya Birhanu aka Tsedi– started singing at an early age, performing at school events while still in elementary and high school. She now performs regularly around the city and is working on her solo album.
- Ras Yohannes- He strongly believes his music is his wings that will carry him to his goal especially since he has spent many years studying and self-refining his talent in order to make sure his message gets to the people through his music.
- Chelina- Chelina is known in Addis for having a distinct sound of Ethiopian music influenced by reggae and jazz. Her first single “sai bai” introduced her to the audience and currently working on her upcoming album.
- Yohannas Ashenafi AKA Yoyo– Yoyo is currently studying at the African Jazz Music School in Addis Ababa and plays reggae regularly in various venues with the Black Vibes Band with his electrifying and energetic performances helping him attract numerous fans. Yoyo is working on his first album scheduled for release in November 2017.
Ethnopia Band Members
Ethnopia band members Mehari brothers is a musical phenomenon, with music defying borders and a performance that speaks to people in all walks of life and nations.
3. Back from Rototom – A gala concert in Addis Ababa featuring reggae legends Steel Pulse and the Ethiopian artists from Rototom. December 2017. With the support of Rototom the next exciting phase of the project is what should be a historic concert in Addis Ababa, set for December 2017 and featuring reggae legends Steel Pulse. ‘’Steel Pulse is a roots reggae band with a message of positivity for anyone who listens with their heart.” Grammy winners Steel Pulse are considered one of Britain’s greatest reggae bands. Their 1978 debut, Handsworth Revolution, is still regarded by many critics as a landmark and a high point of British reggae. The show should attract thousands of music lovers for many of whom this will be the first chance to see these legends. Steel Pulse will be supported live by the Ethiopian artists who traveled to Rototom.
4. Ethnopia: Rototom Comes to Ethiopia – planned for 2018. Develop and build in partnership with Rototom an International music festival to be held in Ethiopia.
The Rototom Social Forum is an important space for discussion which has in the past hosted noted academics, journalists, and public figures. This year the Forum will include Nobel peace laureate Mohamed Ben Cheikh of Tunisia.