Born in the capital, around Gofa, next to Qera almost 40 years ago, Abraham Gebremedhin actually never thought he would become a singer. Although he rushed to school every morning to sing to his friends whatever new song he had studied, it never occurred to him that he would sing for a living. He does, however, remember an incident where he tried to tell his uncle how music made him feel, how it used to fill up his heart. His uncle, of course, promptly admonished him and told him to finish his studies. After finishing high school, Abraham went on to study Accounting at Addis Ababa University. He was then hired at the Ethiopian Revenues Customs Authority and was a self proclaimed strict tax auditor until he heard a joke about the Ethio-Eritirean war. He heard that Ethiopia was going to build a wall between the two countries but leave a mailbox sized slot open, with which she can receive cassette tapes for new songs. Because, apparently, all the good Tigrigna songs came from that side. So Abraham rose to the challenge; to make that slot obsolete.
We questioned him about his life now compared to 20 years ago:
Fortune: Key Priorities
AG : The most important thing back then was to be able to eat, at least daily. We had just lost our father and everyday was a struggle. I used to help out at home in any way I could. I did whatever I could from working in our teashop, to odd jobs I came across
Now I do my best to help others eat. I also try to help up-and-coming singers get to their destinations faster, so they will not have to take the tasking path I took.
What Tickles the Taste Buds?
AG : I used to love ribs, chicken, atint of any kind.
After consultation with my doctor, although I love Qurt, Now I frequently eat light meal like Injera bewot.
Evolution of Earnings
AG : I used to earn 300 Br a month as a kebele band singer. Twenty years now up to , I can get from 50,000 Br – 60,000 Br. A show. Better yet, if I get to do a concert that tours the US, I can make upto half a million Birr
Splashing Out on Fashion
AG : In those times, we had a single set of clothes. Things have change now.
I have a watch, a gift from a fan, that costs close to 40,000 dollars. I also have a couple of suits that cost about two thousand dollars each.
AG : Long distance walking and debate among devili’s advocate friends, for hours. Now any children have become any priority. But I still enjoy debates, with my son and family.
AG : I used to aspire to be the best at school. I’d like to start a production company with my life partner, Eden G.Selassie.
Perception of Death
AG : Never thought about death back then. Once I was in car accident, I learned death could be so close and reality. I want to die without regrets.
In Your CD Collection
AG : I used to love Hirut Bekelle’s ‘Dega, WoinaDega.’
AG : At that age I was driven by necessity, by my determination to change. Now it comes from deliberate observation. I notice the contrasts among people, among their habits, their actions… things like that.
Tipping the Scales
AG : For a long time in my life I had stayed at 56kg. Now highly controlled weight, 77 Kg is maintained
AG : I wasn’t aware of brands then. I like Kangol they make the best caps, especially ones that go with formal attire, my Tommy Hilfiger suits. I have a lot of ALDO shoes, and clothes by Calvin Klein.
AG : Back then, you could walk into Cherqos, say anything you want and no one notices.
Now, I get noticed, I miss being able to hit on women,(melakefe) and walking long distances.
AG : I was strictly religious back then. I fasted during Lent, and all the other fasting seasons. We used to have small celebrations at home. A few years later, my holidays started to be spent entertaining people. Trying to create a high-energy environment where people can have a great time.
While I can never be home on the eve, the day of the holiday, I will not go anywhere. I spend time with family and help others have a decent holiday as well. When I buy sheep for home, I buy chicken for my neighbour; because I remember times when I had a holiday where we didn’t have meat.
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