Guzo, the 2012 solo debut release from International artist and Ethiopian pianist Samuel Yirga, combines the elements of Ethiopian, R&B, Reggae, Rock, Jazz, and African music. Featuring 11 tracks, Guzo features influential tracks infusing young and matured melodic instrumentations. Recommended tracks include Yirga’s inspiring rendition of “The Blues of Wollo” and the collaborative track “African Diaspora” featuring Nigerian-British vocalist Nicollete.
Recorded at Ethiopia’s Solomon Records and the United Kingdom’s Real World Records Studio, the piano solos on Guzo were played “deeply and contextually” to demonstrate a link with Yirga and his music. On the track “The Blues of Wollo”, Yirga uses his interpretation of the song to describe his birthplace while demonstrating the influence Blues music has had on the residents of Ethiopia. Yirga explains, “I wanted to show deep Blues of this town in Ethiopia. While American Blues uses the Blues Guitar, Ethiopians use Mesenqo.” Mesenqo, a one-string Fiddle, is used to support the deepness of the melody while musically demonstrating the expressions of the vocalist featured on the song.
In 2007, Yirga volunteered his time performing at Coffee House, a local Ethiopian Jazz club. While he wasn’t paid for his time, Yirga viewed the gig as an opportunity to have his music heard by peers and fans. While continuing to perform at Coffee House, Yirga began to perform at a Reggae music club with Jamaican musicians. Shortly after, Yirga would join forces with the popular International Ethio-Jazz/Reggae band called Dub Colossus.
During his tenure with Dub Colossus, Yirga had the unique opportunity to play in front of approximately 20,000 people while performing for the Ethiopian Millennium at the Millennium Hall alongside Ethiopian superstar Zeritu Kebede. After arranging her sophomore release, Kebede described Yirga as a “sought-after” musician. While in the band Dub Colossus, Yirga gained several notable mentions and award nominations including Best Album of 2012 by The Huffington Post and the Top 30 World Albums of 2012 by Rhapsody.
Born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopian resident and native Samuel Yirga was first influenced by his two older brothers. These early influences would lead Yirga to pursue an education at the Addis Ababa University Yared School of Music. At the tender age of 16, Yirga placed third out of 2,500 people who tested to gain entrance into the school. While attending the school, Yirga first developed a keen interest and began to study Piano. After learning the basics of Piano, Yirga became inspired by another major musical influence. Yirga explains ,“Alicia Keys made me love the Piano very much because my experience before music school was listening to R&B, Soul, Rock, Reggae along with Ethiopian modern and traditional music.”
Through his music, Samuel Yirga hopes to continue to inspire others with his influential sounds while educating others across the World about the heritage and history of Ethiopia. Yirga states:
“As I always describe the culture of Ethiopia, it is very diverse. The Languages are about 88 and the country has an amazing history. There are some parts of cultures which got the promotion and the music is also one part but not all parts are discovered. When people describe the music of Ethiopia, it is mostly The Azmaris or the Pop music. But there are many more to describe Ethiopia and to be considered as Unique cultures of the country. I don't think foreigners know more about the other cultures. Me myself as an Ethiopian don't have that much knowledge to talk about everything so I have many projects as a research inorder to work on all and to promote it internationally. So Ethiopia will be really described in a wider term. There are many young talents in Ethiopia but with lack of oportunities. So the talent just stays here or vanishes. The world has to give more attention to these talents and can be possible to bring a new flavor for the international audience.”
For more information about Samuel Yirga and Real World Records, please visit http://samuelyirga.com/