Culture is a driving force for the social, historical and political development of a society. Culture can be an anchor and support, a force and an engine for change. Culture acts connecting, in a direct and emotional way. An impressive example of the social and political impact of music is the 1941-born singer and songwriter Alemayehu Eshete, often described as the 'Ethiopian James Brown'. In times of the struggle for survival when there are no perspectives, his songs have played a special role for the young people in Ethiopia. Up to this day, his social-critical lyrics are very important for the youth in Ethiopia, giving them hope and motivation.

The project »Stay Strong«, taken from one of Eshetes' myriad song titles, honors the work and the impact of the musician and the generation of the so-called golden Age of Ethiopian music.

For more than 50 years, his social-critical lyrics create an impact for changes in the society and provide moral support for young people in Ethiopia, who have a difficult start in life.

To connect the past with the present, Alemayehu Eshete will share his musical experience with young musicians both from Ethiopia and Europe. Therefore he will work together with them in workshops, where new songs will be made and selected songs from his work will get newly composed. An ensemble of accomplished and renowned musicians from Ethiopia, Germany, France and Italy will support Alemayehu. In Addis Ababa, an album will be recorded, which is the core of a tour of the ensemble through three countries. The ensemble, including Alemayehu Eshete, forms the temporary band STAY STRONG and will go on tour between May and September 2016.

In addition, a travelling exhibition and a book will accompany the project STAY STRONG. The travelling exhibition, dedicated to the project, will present the music landscape of Ethiopia's past 100 years and the role of Alemayehu Eshete in the music history worldwide. The book "Alemayehu Eshete and the golden age of Ethiopian music“ investigates and documents the role of him and musicians of his generation in modern Ethiopian music since the 1950's.

A documentary , which starts in January 2016 in Addis Ababa, will capture the whole process of STAY STRONG. Hereby the focus will lie on the exchange between Alemayehu Eshete and musicians of other generations and cultures. The final milestone of the project will be the closing ceremony in fall 2016, taking place in Berlin. The ceremony will honor Alemayehu Eshete for his work.

Milestones of the project