by Anthony R. Green
In anticipation of Castle of our Skins’s “From the Motherland” project this June, BIBA would like to bring your attention to the incredible world of Emahoy Tsegué‑Maryam Guèbrou ፅጌ ማርያም ገብሩ. Pan African Music published a fascinating article about her in January, which was shared with Castle of our Skins by our friend Bongani Ndodana-Breen, a fantastic scholar and composer from South Africa. In this article, one can dive into Ms. Emahoy Guèbrou’s rollercoaster of a life, which includes studying violin and piano in Switzerland as a child, becoming a prisoner of war, further studying music in Egypt, being supported by Emperor Haile Selassie, releasing her first album in her 40s, speaking 7 languages, and more. Her story and accomplishments form yet another example of a talent whose ethnicity, geography, and skin color most likely contributed to her position within the greater music world.
After reading this article, I remembered that this year was not the first time I came across the life and music of this quiet Ethiopian genius. 5 years after graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music (where Ashe and I first met!!), another classmate of mine – Mary Sutton – released the above video and shared her research and interactions with Ms. Guèbrou. Sutton considers Guèbrou “the most unique pianist of our time”, and I cannot agree with her more. Throughout YouTube, a simple search of Emahoy Tsegué‑Maryam Guèbrou will result in numerous videos of her playing her compositions and some of her albums. The search will also reveal some of the upcoming videos of other pianists performing Ms. Emahoy Tsegué‑Maryam Guèbrou’s compositions, one of whom is the focus of the PAM article, the Israeli pianist and sound artist Maya Dunietz. We here at Castle of our Skins highly suggest spending some time in this intimate world. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT!
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