Ethiopia holds state funeral for ‘legendary’ vocalist Tilahun Gessesse
APA-Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) Ethiopia is hosting a state funeral for its “legendary” artist with thousands of people gathered at the Mesquel Square in Addis Ababa for the ceremony.
It is the first such state funeral in Ethiopia’s history.
The “legendary” artist, Tilahun Gessesse, who passed away, last Sunday, was Ethiopia’s vocalist who was on stage for the past 50 years.
Since his death last Sunday, Ethiopian national radio and television as well as the FM stations and local newspapers have been giving a wide coverage about his works.
On Thursday, the farewell ceremony started at his home, and his body was brought for the farewell ceremony at Mesquel Square in Addis Ababa where several people were already gathered to pay their last respects to Ethiopia’s most respected musician.
The farewell ceremony was accompanied with military march and with a flower laying ceremony.
Tilahun Gessesse, 68, passed away late on Sunday within hours of his arrival from the United States for the Ethiopian Easter celebrations.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and the state president Girma Woldegiorgisse sent their condolence messages to the ceremony in which they expressed their appreciations to the vocalist for his hard work in promoting Ethiopian music.
All national radio and television stations suspended their daily news programs and were giving live broadcast oh his funeral ceremony, taking place at the Trinity Church in Addis Ababa.
According to his life history read out at the farewell ceremony, Gessesse has over 400 songs touching on love, social and national affairs, among other issues.
In appreciation of his contribution to Ethiopian music, Tilahun received an honorary doctorate degree from Addis Ababa University three years ago. He has also received an award for his lifetime achievements from the Ethiopian Fine Art and Mass Media Prize Trust.
“Although today is a sad day for Ethiopia, but we cannot say Gessesse has died. He is alive with us with his unforgettable works,” said an artist
International media continue to report on the death of Tilahun Gessesse
International media, including the BBC and Washington Post, continue to report on the death and funeral of the late Tilahun Gessesse.
Ethiopian great singer Tilahun Gessesse died on Sunday night at the age of 68.
“One news story called him the ''Ethiopian Pavarotti,"…, said a report by The Washington Post quoting early reports which compared Tilahun with the late Italian singer Luciano Pavarotti, one of most commercially successful tenors of all time who used to singing with voice above baritone.
The Washington Post report said, “He was sometimes known as Tlahoun Gessesse, and a New York Times reveiwer in 1998 described his early 1970s records as "alive with the trebly, scratching, rhythm guitars, punching horn sections and James Brown-style drum rhythms that were flooding the world. Except that he was Ethiopian, his songs used Arabic and Eastern scales and his bands were state-run institutions.”
The reviewer, Ben Ratliff, continued: "His voice slips from a gargled upper-middle register to a yodel or a shriek, and flutters through a weave of scale notes, muezzin-style; sometimes he pauses between phrases, aware of his power, and lets out a chuckle," the report added.
According to the BBC, Tilahun had been the most dominant figure in Ethiopian music for more than half a century.