Eritrean singer Awalom Gebremariam

Awalom Gebremariam “Desdes”

At the age of 28, Awalom Gebremariam arrived in the United States, following a years-long journey from Eritrea. He’d made it to a refugee camp in Ethiopia several years ago and eventually attained asylum status for passage to America. But before he left his hometown, Eritrea’s capital Asmara, he made his first and only recording so far, Desdes.

Awalom completed Desdes in 2007, not long before he departed Eritrea. Because Awalom left after the recording he never received any money for cassette and CD sales. But he also didn’t get to find out how much of an impact the songs have had locally.

His songs appear to focus on love, but Awalom isn’t speaking about romantic love per se. Much of the music Awalom heard growing up was intertwined with Eritrea’s difficult and contentious split from Ethiopia.

He spent years waiting for the chance to escape economic and political turmoil at home. Now 29 and living in North Carolina, Awalom works in a restaurant and plans to bring his music to Eritrean communities across North America as well as newer listeners with whom his powerful sounds and remarkable journey will deeply resonate.

Previously posted on Awesome Tapes From Africa, here is the backstory/original post.

Order Awalom Gebremariam “Desdes” LP/CD/Digital US / UK

Listen to the song “Aadu.”


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Reissue: Awalom Gebremariam – Aadureply
April 4, 2016 at 7:22 am

[…] Via Awesome Tapes: […]

April 16, 2016 at 2:07 am

Happy 10th Birthday, ATFA!! You’ve given an enormous amount of enjoyment, education & eye-opening over those years, Brian – a HUGE thank you from us all, not only for introducing us to such a wide range of countries & styles,, but also for the initiative of finding those ‘old’ artists & making sure they get some of the benefit of their new worldwide audience. You are a hero of our times!

Het schaduwkabinet: week 16 – 2016 – De Subjectivistenreply
April 19, 2016 at 1:04 pm

[…] Awalom Gebremariam – Desdes (cd, Awesome Tapes From Africa / Konkurrent) De uit Eritrea afkomstige muzikant Awalom Gebremariam vlucht via Ethiopië uiteindelijk naar de Verenigde Staten. Sinds de onafhankelijkheid in 1991 zijn er dikwijls ongeregeldheden en met de mensenrechten neemt men het ook niet zo nauw. Toch heeft voor zijn vertrek uit zijn thuisland in 2007 nog een album gemaakt, te weten Desdes. Hij heeft hiervoor zichzelf geleerd de traditionele instrumenten wata en de krar te spelen en zet die ook veelvuldig in. Naast zijn eigen zang is ook die van een gastzangeres regelmatig te horen. De muziek houdt het midden tussen die van de touaregs en typisch Ethiopische muziek, al ligt dat wat gevoelig in Eritrea denk ik zo. Door het lekker hoge tempo is de muziek soms dansbaar en komt deze vooral vrolijk en energiek over. Vanaf de eerste tot de laatste seconde weet Gebremariam je mee te slepen met zijn heerlijk wervelende muziek. Het is een groot goed dat Awesome Tapes From Africa deze heeft heruitgegeven. […]

Jun Leereply
June 10, 2016 at 8:26 pm

Hello buddy, you have a nice blog here, so many rare things, congratulations my friend.

January 8, 2017 at 7:34 am

Fantastic music !!! hope Awalom Gebremariam will have opportunity to export his music

Brian Shimkovitzreply
January 8, 2017 at 7:49 am
– In reply to: Annie

he has!

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