While the official Ethiopian Millennium fell on September 11, 2007, nine months later, the celebration is far from being over. Ethiopians filled the intimate Joe’s Pub located on 425 Lafayette Street in New York on Saturday May 31st for the Ethiopian Millennium Celebration Concert. Singers Abebe Teka and Mimi (Asresash Meshesha) kicked off the celebration as DJ Sirak spun World Music in between performances.
The concert is part of the Ethiopian Millennium Celebration organized by The Beta Israel of North America (BINA) Cultural Foundation, Inc. As stated on its website, “Our (BINA’s) aim is to promote understanding of Ethiopian Jewish culture and history. We believe that this will help us retain and carry forward our traditions and enrich Jewish life as a whole.” The word BINA means understanding in Hebrew.
While Joe’s Pub is located in New York, the singing styles of Abebe Teka and Mimi easily brought you to the Washington DC atmosphere, most notably Dukem Restaurant, where both have performed. That is, if you are familiar with Dukem—one of the most popular Ethiopian Restaurant.
Mimi, who is currently working on her debut album, began singing professionally at the age of 16. She entered the stage at Joe’s Pub with elegance and sophisticated charm. Dressed in complete Ethiopian attire, the colorful lights added to her warm smile. Her eclectic voice brought concertgoers to their feet during her very first performance. Mimi engaged the crowd, at times dancing eskesta as low as she could so as to get closer to the audience. After each performance she took a gracious bow and as elegantly as she had entered, she exited.
Abebe Teka, who is currently working on a new album due for realease in 2009, was introduced to music at an early age. Born and raised in Gondar, Ethiopia, Teka’s career began in the mid 80’s. This laid back singer, who was dressed in white, whistled at times during his performance. His voice brought audience members to a state of relaxation, until that is, when he played guragigna. Mostly everyone followed his lead and danced wherever they could. They danced in uniform by their tables, over by the bar and in aisles making it difficult for the waiters to serve them.
Apart from the moving performances by the singers, plenty of other things added to the success of the event. DJ Sirak kept the night eventful as he spun a lively array of World Music. Members of BINA, which included the host of the event, were very polite and courteous throughout the night. The wait staff at Joe’s Pub provided exceptional service and while the bar was crowded, the waiting time was not long. The temperature was just right inside the candlelit Joe’s Pub as the celebration lasted longer than expected. Whether you paid $25 in advance or $30 at the door, this celebration was well worth it!
For more information on The Beta Israel of North America (BINA), including future events, please visit http://www.binacf.org/events.php