‘Wazema’ in Amharic means anticipation of happy
times, of good things to come. This is the name we chose for our band,
as our purpose is to bring joy to all who hear us, and present the magic
of Ethiopian music to as many people as we possibly can.
Wazema’s members come from different backgrounds, but we all understand
each other when it comes to Ethiopian music. Our singer, Mesfin, was born
in the city of Bahr-Dar, in the Gojam province. He comes from a musical
family, and his knowledge of Ethiopian music is vast.
Shiferaw plays keyboard, drum, and also sings. Growing up in Israel
since the age of eight, he comes from the Gonder province, and excels in
the style associated with Gonder. Saba, our second singer, is also from
Gonder. While she can sing a variety of styles, she is at her best when
performing in the Gonder style.
Nadav plays saxophone and kirar (Ethiopian lyre). He is not an Ethiopian,
and comes from a musical background of Blues and Jazz. He has learned the
music in his visit to Ethiopia, and from musicians who have visited Israel
over the years, including Teshager Yilma and Mituku Tasfaye.
The band regularly features one or two professional dancers, depending
on the occasion.
Wazema & Ethiopian music
Ethiopia has a tremendously rich musical culture. The main traditional
styles that have become integrated into the unified Ethiopian culture are
the Amharic, Oromo, Gurage and Tigry styles. Each style has a distinct
approach to rhythm and singing style.
Since Wazema is comprised mainly of Amharic speaking musicians, we concentrate
mainly on the Amharic styles – from the districts of Gonder, Gojam and
Wollo. We sing and play traditional songs associated with these areas,
songs played in weddings, holidays and other social occasions.
Wazema does play Oromo, Gurage and Tigry songs, but with us these styles
are secondary to the wide selection of Amharic songs.
Wazema is the first group in Israel and one of the few Ethiopian groups
in the world that plays traditional Ethiopian music suitable for both Ethiopian
and non Ethiopian audiences, and we accomplish this without sacrificing
the authenticity of the music.
We perform the whole range of tradition - from the simplest singing
accompanied by hand clapping, through singing accompanied by traditional
instruments (drum, lyre) to performing traditional songs on modern instruments
(keyboard, saxophone). We have dancers who accompany the music with the
Most of the music we play is rhythmic and danceable. Dancing has an
important social function in Ethiopia, and in Wazema we continue the tradition,
so our dancers can excite the crowd with their special dancing. When we
play to Ethiopians, they quickly join our own dancers and participate in
the creation of the music by dancing to it, clapping their hands, and adding
vocal comments in the traditional manner. When the crowd is mostly non-Ethiopian,
the spirit of the music quickly catches the hearts of the audience, some
attempt to dance, clap their hands, and participate as much as they can.
We feel that our music leaves a long lasting impression with our listeners,
wherever the come from.
Please e-mail us at Wazema.