Saturday, January 31, 2015

Not the Movie: Gigi and "Enoralehu"

The random tune today is from Gigi, the stage name of Ethiopian singer Ejigayehu Shibabaw. Gigi learned traditional music from an Ethiopian Orthodox priest in her family home in northwest Ethiopia. After living in Kenya for a few years, she moved to San Francisco in the late 1990s where she made her first albums for the Ethiopian expatriate community. These albums brought her to the attention of Chris Blackwell, whose Island Records made reggae mainstream, and he and producer Bill Laswell matched Gigi with musicians such as Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Pharoah Sanders, among others, on her 2001 album Gigi which gained her widespread attention. A combination of traditional and modern sounds, it was a great success on the international music scene as well as a source of controversy in Ethiopia because of its radical reworking of traditional music. She later married Bill Laswell and recorded an album with him called Zion Roots. This song, Enoralehu, is from her 2006 album Gold and Wax and features a haunting vocal.