From the Media Capital, to the Global Ethiopian Community
Saturday October 16th 2021

Gigi Sings Hope Songs for Ethiopia — With Hopes for a Homecoming

Photo: Petulia Mattioli

By Steve Hochman, Don’t book your flights quite yet. But if you’re a world music fan (and given that you’re reading this, you probably are), there may be something happening in early January that you’d want to see.

Of course, if it happens it will be in Addis Ababa. The singer known as Gigi is trying to make plans to return to her native Ethiopia (where she was born as Ejigayehu Shibabaw) for the first time since she left in 1997, hoping to play a concert in the capital on Jan. 7 – the Ethiopian Orthodox Christmas.

When she left, she was just an aspiring performer. But after settling in the US – first in San Francisco and later New York – she became a sensation in world music and beyond, endorsed and encouraged by fellow Ethiopian expat Aster Aweke, signed by Chris Blackwell (the man who built Island Records and turned Bob Marley into a global icon) to his Palm Pictures label and produced by eclectic innovator/bassist Bill Laswell (who later became her husband). It’s a rise that, she has been told, those at home followed with great interest. This would be the first time she’d gotten to perform for her Ethiopian fans.

“I really became famous after I got here,” she says, talking from her Manhattan home. “I made one record there, but it came out after I got here. I’m not sure, but from what I’ve heard from people I have a huge following there. A lot of people know my records.”

Whether you can go or not – whether she can go or not – you can get a taste of what it might be like, as Gigi has just released a live album, ‘Mesgana Ethiopia,’ her first in-concert collection and her first of any kind in more than four years. The band behind her sports international jazz and traditional music frontliners (the latest edition of Laswell’s Material, including adventurous American drummer Hamid Drake and Senegalese percussionist Aiyb Dieng, Ethiopian-Japanese keyboardist Abegasu Shiota, Zaire-born guitarist Dominic Kanza and a two-man horn section). And with her voice a fluid, powerful instrument, Gigi revisits and recharges songs from her studio albums, along with a pair of earthy traditional Ethiopian songs and one previously unrecorded original, ‘Shemum Mune.’ … Read More & Listen @

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One Response to “Gigi Sings Hope Songs for Ethiopia — With Hopes for a Homecoming”

  1. Lee says:

    Waw, we love you Gigi. Gigi is most famous by her song and her hair style in Ethiopia. The hair style is called “Gigi style”. I remember when I was in university 7 years ago ladies were known for their “gigi style” hair. Gigi is really fantastic Ethiopian singer. We know what obstacles she overcame to keep her Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity and to be renowned singer . even though I personally will not be in Addis in January but April of 2011 for duty reasons abroad I am grateful to watch her performing on TV from Addis (Millennium hall. God Bless her!!

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