In the late 1960s, in the capital of Ethiopia, record store owner-turned-music producer Amha Eshete noticed something strange: there was no Ethiopian music being produced and sold in his country. Herein began the birth of recorded Ethiopian music, imbued with the flavours of funk, soul and jazz.
Despite being illegal at the time, the music was celebrated by the people and tolerated by the country’s monarch. But in 1975, new governmental powers hit the pause button on this new musical expression, forcing Eshete into exile and imprisoning many artists. Like many great stories, however, things did not end there. A 1970s recording from Mahmoud Ahmed fell into the hands of Francis Falceto, a French music journalist, who was smitten by the sound.
He embarked on a two-decade long journey that took him to Ethiopia and the United States in an attempt to revive Ethiopian music and share it with the world. Maciek Bochniak’s film weaves together interviews with Eshete, Falceto, and many of the Ethiopian musicians – including Girma Bèyènè, pianist and arranger for the Walias Band – who played key roles in this unique musical culture.