1. Tsehaytu Beraki
Tsehaytu Beraki is an absolutely legendary singer from Eritrea. Born in 1939 in Quatit, a small village, she soon picked up the Krar (5-string harp) and after moving to the capital Asmara she became a famous singer in bars, to attract men to the local traditional beer houses. Her courage and inspiration still mean a lot to all Eritreans – The songs are as authentic as possible, to western ears it is largely unknown music.
2. Tecle Adhanom
The pioneering exponent of East Africa ambience was Tecle Adhanom, “Wizard of the Guitar” and, ultimately. At the peak of his career, he was a virtuoso guitarist and musical arranger. If there ever was an African musician that was ready for international exposure, it was Tecle Adhanom. During the struggle for Eritrea’s Independence, he was one of the founders of the group “Meqalih Eritrea”, which was formed in 1985. He produced memorable hits such as “Sheta Merur”, “Tegadalay”, “Freedom in August” (Bologna is the best), “Motherland Eritrea” remains one of the finest tunes in the Eritrea music scene. His warm baritone voice still has what it takes to move his audience.
3. Eng. Asghedom Woldemicheal
Asghedom Woldemichael (Engineer) has been and still is a popular singer, producing modern and traditional songs for decades. His songs motivated many youngsters to join the Revolution. And he is still turning out fine music. We sing for and about the people or the nation. One of his famous songs Saba Sabina.
4. Haile Ghebru
Haile Ghebru, one of Zereai Deres founder, the rise of Haile, from Asmara superstardom to fame, was no flash in the pan. By the time soul music appeared at Kagnew Station in Asmara. Haile had already served his apprenticeship in Addis-Abeba, toured “Zerai Deres” in 1972, and recorded over several bestselling LP’s.
5. Osman Abdurahim
One of the most popular musicians in Eritrea, Osman Abdurahim came to prominence in the “swinging Asmara” music scene of the early 60’s as cabarets, theatre, and an independent record label sprung up in the capital. With the collapse of the Derg regime in Ethiopia and Eritrea’s independence in 1991, Osman returned to Asmara from exile with “Dehai Bahli Eritrea”. One of the country’s most charismatic singers, Osman has been singing for over 50 years and has produced several memorable hits. His unique singing style has inspired a generation. Many of his songs open with Eri-flavour boogie grooves such as “Fekri ewor amine”, “Selki qutsri hibki” over which Saxes enter with a distinctively recurring melody. When the pace slows down for “Ayfalkin gerhenety”, that’s when the real magic begins.
6. Hagos Berhane
Truly a global artist, guitarist/singer/songwriter Hagos Berhane left Eritrea during the political unrest of the mid 1970s, first settling in Addis Ababa, then the Sudan, and then Saudi Arabia, establishing a fan base wherever he performed. Residing in the U.S. in the Washington, DC area since the late 1980s, he’s since returned to perform in Eritrea on many occasions. One of Eritrea’s accomplished musicians: he is a deserving recipient of the coveted Raimoq Award in Eritrea. His brilliant control and flair for improvisation means anything can happen – and usually do.
7. Bereket Mengesteab
Mengisteab was born in 1938 in Hazega, spent his early life in the village farming, taught himself to play the Krar and took part in the musical events that were part of the local rural culture. In 1961 he moved to Addis Ababa and joined the Haile Selassie Theater Orchestra. He remained with the orchestra for over a decade and performed with them all over Ethiopia as well as Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, at the 1966 Festival mondial des Arts Nègres in Senegal, and at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico. He recorded his first singles during this period, nine singles for the Philips label. During mid-1970s Mengisteab was the only Eritrean artist broadcasted on the radio, his krar music and usage of the Tigrinya language assured his popularity. He has recorded about 200 songs out of a total of 250 songs he has composed over the past fifty years.
8. Alamin Abdeletif
Born 1942 in Asmara (Abshawel), Alamin began singing at ceremonies and celebrations and learned songs of his legacy. Later he joined MTA (Mahber Teather Asmara) is a theater group. In the 70s Alamin was forced to leave his home and went to Saudi Arabia, because of political unrest imposed by the government of Ethiopia . He spends many years in exile and singing traditional and original Tigre songs.
9. Jaber Mahmoud
He is one of the founders of Ma’eta and member of the Eritrean Music Association.
The development of music in Eritrea has its own historical and traditional roots that date back thousands of years with churches and mosques teaching students hymns and chants in choirs from an early age. But one of the most innovative periods in the development of modern Eritrean music took place in the early 60s with the formation of Mahber Theater Asmara (Asmara Theatre Association), famously known as MaTA. Had it not been, in part, for MaTA, Eritrean music would not be where it is today.
10. Mohammed Osman
Mohammed is this generations most versatile and legend singer and his charismatic good looks make him effortlessly likeable and magnetic. He sings in both Arabic and Tigre and his hit songs still resonates with both the young and the old. Is one of the generation artists, most lastingly charismatic and dynamic, and one of its most versatile Tigre singers. It’s been said that whole history of Eritrea can be told through Tigre singers, and it is true that nowhere else has such a lively and potent tradition of musical comment and satire.
11. Tesfamariam Kidane
Tesfamariam is one of the pioneer Eritrean saxophonists who had left a musical footprint in the sixties and early seventies at the advent of “modern” music in Asmara and Addis Ababa. Essentially Tesfamariam was amongst the number of Eritrean artists who were key contributors to the development of modern music in Ethiopia. A league of creative greats such as, Saxophonist/bass guitarist Fekaddu Andemeskel, lead guitarist Tekle Adhanom, lead guitarist/vocalist Tewolde Reda, composer Abubakar Ashaker ( Kbur Zebegna Band), Composer/Teacher Colonel Girmay Abdu (Kbur Zebegna Band), and vocalist & percussionist Tekle Tesfazghi.
12. Superstars / Jaguar – Musicians
Some talented 60’/70’s bred musicians also played at international venues as they quickly caught up with the 60s and 70s American psychedelic rock and Motown soul music styles. Some of the great musicians who soared to fame include the acclaimed such as; Feleci, Luidgi Mauri, Berhane Tesfamariam, and many more.