It is an understatement to say that I love, love love music. There is a redemption that is found in each note, with each strum of the guitar and with each thump of the drum. I have realized one thing over the years; with music, my soul feels light and lively. But when music is withdrawn, I go through a withdrawal where doldrums kiss me three times on my cheeks. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who feels this way–music is a universal elixir and a best friend when we need it most.
There are two aspects of music I love the most. Primary of the two would be listening to music of my childhood. Singers like Mahmoud Ahmed and Phil Collins, to name but a few, have a way of transporting me back to a time of mirth where optimism filled every step. Whether I’m listening to “Yeshi Haregitu” or “One More Night”, the soundtrack of my youth is like a snap back to a time of innocence and happiness. Most of the time, songs that remind me of my younger days are ones sung by established stars as I had yet to venture into uncharted territory to “discover” new singers and their talent during my formative years.
As I got older and my taste for music grew, I learned to appreciate the talented singers that often go unnoticed. The more I ventured into poetry nights or Ethiopian restaurants, the more I started to gravitate towards finding hidden gems with uber talent. There is something about hearing live music from a singer that is not famous that fills the soul with sheer enjoyment. Perhaps it’s because there is a bond that we form with these unheralded singers as we join them on their journey towards discovery. Or maybe it’s all about our egos; we want to brag that we discovered them first. Whatever the motivation, the connection we make with singers shrouded in anonymity is profound. This is why shows like America’s Got Talent and American Idol get a ratings bonanza–we want our unsung heroes to sing their way into stardom.
The reason I am writing this article is because one of the unheralded singers I used to follow a few years ago, Genet Abate (link) sent me a link to her video a couple of days ago. I remembered her music and the time I used to listen to her melody continually; but I could not remember what that particular song was and what moved me to hear her songs as much as I did. So before I listened to her new song, I scrolled through Genet’s YouTube channel until my eyes landed on the music I used to play on repeat. I pressed play on “Men Yedereg” and instantly I was transported back to the time where her song was once my anthem.
“Men Yedereg” is a song about unrequited love. Genet sings about her affection for a guy who would not return her affinity back. This is the danger of putting ourselves on the limb and expressing our interest; there is always a chance that we will remain stranded on that branch without an interest extended back. The way that Genet sings the tune is perfect, though people who can’t understand Amharic will not be able sing along with the lyrics, the emotional throes Genet goes through as she tries to get a second look is palpable in her voice. You see, the music that moves us best are the tunes that speaks our distress through melodies.
The beauty of time is this; in time the same music that spoke our pains becomes the music that makes us look back and smile. This is why I love music so, it connects our present to our past and lets us heal in time and eventually look back in hindsight with relief and happiness. My need to reflect back satiated, I decided to watch her video. To my surprise, Genet’s new video “Man Lilekih” has close to one million hits (both her older video and the new one are embedded at the bottom of this article). Genet is not quite the unheralded singer anymore; through sheer tenacity and talent, she is no longer the anonymous singer she once was. Based in Minnesota, Genet has put in herculean work over the years as she traveled state to state performing in front of live audiences–hard work begets abundance.
I write this article to praise not only the talent that is Genet but also to inspire other talented singers who sing at local venues and even the ones who belt tunes on the streets. Don’t ever give up singing and don’t let anyone make you question your ability. Keep on singing through the good and the bad times and eventually you will be blessed back as you bless the world with your gift. It’s ironic, Genet’s name means “paradise”, an allusion to the garden of Eden which was God’s gift to mankind. We might not reside in paradise but we still have the gift within us. Genet pursued her skills with full vigor and for that the future is bright for her yet. This is why I love telling others about musicians that have yet to become famous–it is better to water seeds than it is to reflect at stars. #GiftOfGenet
“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” ~ Victor Hugo
If you love, love love music as well and appreciate both famous and unheralded singers, share this article on social media using #GiftOfGenet
The song that took me back, the song that once sang my blues. Birabiro sure has a way of transforming blues into jazzy tunes.
Check out the new single that has delivered Genet from unheralded to the stage. Hard work leads to rewards.
This is why I love love love music as I tell it on video to augment this article.
Like Genet’s Page by clicking on picture below or clicking HERE.
Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.