Haymanot Tesfa

Inspirational Ethio-roots music from star Amharic singer Haymanot Tesfa

‘Her voice flutters around the Ethiopian scales like a small bird or butterfly, while the resonant plucked strings of her krar create a steady platform on which her voice can alight from time to time’  (Songlines Magazine****4 stars)

In contemplation of the spiritual, ancient landscapes of her native Ethiopia and its meditative social & religious roots music, Haymanot Tesfa’s krar, the traditional Ethiopian six-stringed lyre, underpins the enchanting and often otherworldly sensation that is her voice, the true song of a free spirit, fearless and intensely experimental. The African Music Guide calls it ‘powerful and captivating…it can shift from sounding like a spring songbird to a fiery chant’

Haymanot’s music constructs a compelling conversation somewhere between the avant-garde & the traditional, whilst her singing has an astonishing and diverse range which mesmerises her audiences. She performs solo & in duo with Iranian virtuoso percussionist Arian Sadr.

Haymanot’s repertoire is rooted in interpretations of iconic Amharic language songs & musical scales like Tezeta and Ambassel. Of these pieces, she says ‘when I sing these songs I always sing them differently depending on what I get from the musicians I play with and the whole atmosphere. I like to be free! So the way I sing is always new even if I’m playing on the same scale and using the same words. Sometimes I play something new which I don’t even remember when I leave the stage. I want to give my audiences the new me always. What makes me happy is that I know that I gave them something they can take with them. People tell me that my singing is therapeutic for them and they thank me for singing, but the truth is that I am also happy while I’m singing’ 

Haymanot’s 2019 debut album Loosening the Strings (Vacilando ’68) captures profound soul and enchanting spiritualism, connecting to a sense of deep reflection on her roots. The music is experimental, improvised and daring, & has that feeling of a field recording about it.

Haymanot’s unique style has won her well-deserved recognition as a star emerging artist on the UK African & World Music scene, with live performances for BBC Radio 3 at Free Thinking Festival SAGE Gateshead, London African Music Festival at VORTEX, for Sam Lee’s NEST Collective, at WOMAD Charlton Park, Celebrating Sanctuary Southbank & Rich Mix, Journeys Festival International Leicester, Platforma Festivals & Conferences Leicester & Manchester, Talking Gigs Sheffield, and in front of the House of Commons at a Partners for Change event.

‘The ambience of those performances is reflected on the album, and using only the krar and a drum, it’s a bold debut. Yet it doesn’t need anything else as it’s simply beautiful’ (African Music Guide)

Scroll to top