Think Big Even Though You Start From Little!


Having done poorly at school, he shined shoes before becoming a handyman at the Arizona Club, which was the after-hours hangout of Emperor Haile Selassie I’s Imperial Body Guard Band. One night in 1962 when the band’s singer didn’t show up, he asked to sing a few songs. He soon becomes part of the band’s regular lineup, where he remained until 1974.

The inspiring singer that I am talking about is Mahmoud Ahmed. His first single was with Venus Band “Nafqot New Yegodagn”/”Yasdestal” in 1971. Then he continued to record with several bands for the Amha and Kaifa record labels throughout the 1970s. The change of Emperor Sellassie and the suspension of musical nightlife under the military government created shifts in the Ethiopian music industry-the Imperial Body Guard Band were no more, and Mahmoud continued to make hit records and cassettes with many musicians who remained in the country.

By 1978, censorship laws prevented Mahmoud from releasing his music on vinyl and so he switched to releasing cassettes. In the 1980s, Mahmoud operated his own music store in Addis Ababa’s Piazza district while continuing his singing career. With many Ethiopian refugees living abroad, Mahmoud became one of the first modern Ethiopian music makers to perform in the United States on 1980-1981 tour with the Wallias Band, Getachew Kassa, and Webeshed Fisseha. Mahmoud soon began releasing records with the Roha Band and became popular in Diaspora communities.

Mahmoud has been a star in Ethiopia almost since the day he began recording. His swooping vocals, complemented by freewheeling jazziness of the Ibex Band (with whom he recorded his masterpiece, “Ere Mela Mela”), are very different from what normally is lumped into the broad expression Afro-pop. By singing in this style Mahmoud has attempted to fuse the past and the present. He’s not an elitist when it comes to singing older Ethiopian music, but rather he hears the similarities in Ethiopian pop that have thrived over time and is keen to bring them together.

In 2007, Mahmoud won a BBC World Music Award.


One can become an Engineer, a Medical Doctor, a Singer, a Pilot, a Lawyer, a Businessman/Businesswoman… everything he/she wishes for. But to be the person you want to be and to fulfill your dream it is apparent and even must to climb the ladder in any way you go. Most successful people’s life story is full of Hoity-Toity life, full of challenges. But they became successful because they knew that challenges are not supposed to paralyze them they are supposed to help them to discover who they are and how strong they are. Mahmoud was a shoe shiner and now he is a hero of the world. Even though you start from little you have to think big. Be strong, if you want to be the person whom you want to be, a person who is going to make a huge change and history!


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