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Mulatu Astatke

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 Mulatu Astatke Biography

Mulatu Astatke (born 1943) is an Ethiopian musician and arranger best known as the father of Ethio-jazz. Born in the western Ethiopian city of Jimma, Mulatu was musically trained in London, New York City, and Boston where he combined his jazz and Latin music interests with traditional Ethiopian music. Astatke led his band while playing vibraphone and conga drums—instruments that he introduced into Ethiopian popular music—as well as other percussion instruments, keyboards and organ. His albums focus primarily on instrumental music, and Astatke appears on all three known albums of instrumentals that were released during Ethiopia's Golden ’70s.

Astatke's family sent the young Mulatu to study engineering in Wales during the late 1950s. Instead, he earned a degree in music through studies at the Welsh Lindisfarne College and then Trinity College of Music in London. In the 1960s, Astatke moved to the United States, where he became the first African student to enroll at Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music, where he studied vibraphone and percussion. While living in the US, Astatke became interested in Latin jazz and recorded his first two albums, Afro-Latin Soul, Volumes 1 & 2, in New York City in 1966. The records prominently feature Astatke's vibraphone, backed up by piano and conga drums playing Latin rhythms, and were entirely instrumental, with the exception of the song "I Faram Gami I Faram," which was sung in Spanish. Though these records are almost indistinguishable from other Latin-jazz records of the period, some tracks foreshadow elements of Astatke's later work, and he is credited as having established conga and bongo drums as common elements in Ethiopian popular music. In the early 1970s, Astatke brought his new sound, which he called Ethio-jazz, back to his homeland while continuing to work in the US. He collaborated with many notable artists in both countries, arranging and playing on recordings by Mahmoud Ahmed, and appearing as a special guest with Duke Ellington and his band during a tour of Ethiopia in 1973. During this time, Astatke recorded another album in New York, Mulatu of Ethiopia (1972). Meanwhile, the bulk of his recorded material was being released on Amha Eshèté's eponymous Ethiopian label Amha Records in Addis Ababa, which released several Mulatu Astatke singles along with the 1974 album Yekatit Ethio-Jazz and six out of the 10 tracks on that year's Ethiopian Modern Instrumentals Hits compilation. Astatke's records appeared alongside releases by notable Ethiopian vocalists Mahmoud Ahmed, Tlahoun Gèssèssè, Alèmayèhu Eshèté, and others, all of whose music was influenced by the infusion of American jazz and Latin instrumentation that Astatke brought to Ethiopia. By 1975, Amha Records had ceased production after the Derg military junta forced the label's owner and many other Ethio-jazz luminaries to flee the country. Astatke stuck around long enough to play vibes for Hailu Mergia and the Walias Band's 1977 album Tche Belew (which featured the original classic "Musicawi Silt") before the Wallas also left Ethiopia to tour internationally. But by the 1980s, Astatke's music was largely forgotten outside of his homeland.

By the early 1990s, many record collectors had rediscovered the music of Mulatu Astatke and were combing stashes of vinyl for copies of his 1970s releases. In 1998, the Parisian record label Buda Musique began to reissue many of the Amha-era Ethio-jazz recordings on compact disc as part of the series Éthiopiques, and the first of these reissues to be dedicated to a single artist was Éthiopiques Volume 4: Ethio Jazz & Musique Instrumentale, 1969–1974, Mulatu Astatke. The album brought Astatke's music to a new international audience, perhaps the largest in his career. His Western audience expanded even further when the 2005 Jim Jarmusch film Broken Flowers featured seven of Astatke's songs, including one performed by Cambodian-American rock band Dengue Fever. National Public Radio used Astatke's instrumentals as beds under or between pieces, notably on the program This American Life. Hip hop artists have also sampled Astatke's songs extensively, samples can be heard in the works of for example Nas, Damian Marley, Kanye West, Cut Chemist, Quantic, Madlib, Oddisee, and Knaan.

Mulatu Astatke on stage with the Heliocentrics in 2009 in Rome After meeting the Massachusetts-based Either/Orchestra in Addis Ababa in 2004, Mulatu began a collaboration with the band with performances in Scandinavia in summer 2006 and London, New York, Germany, Holland, Glastonbury (UK), Dublin, and Toronto in 2008. In the fall of 2008, he collaborated with the London-based psyche-jazz collective the Heliocentrics on the album Inspiration Information Vol. 3, which included re-workings of his earlier Ethio-jazz classics with new material by the Heliocentrics and himself. In 2008, Mulatu completed a Radcliffe Institute Fellowship at Harvard University, where he worked on modernizations of traditional Ethiopian instruments and premiered a portion of a new opera, The Yared Opera. Mulatu also served as an Abramowitz Artist-in-Residence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, delivering lectures and workshops, as well as advising MIT's Media Lab on creating a modern version of the krar, a traditional Ethiopian instrument. On February 1, 2009, Mulatu Astatke performed at the Luckman Auditorium in Los Angeles with a band that included such notable jazz musicians as Bennie Maupin, Azar Lawrence, and Phil Ranelin. Mulatu also released a two-disc set to be sold exclusively to passengers of Ethiopian Airlines, with the first disc being a compilation of the different styles from different regions of Ethiopia and the second being studio originals.

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FAQs
  • HOW TO BOOK Mulatu Astatke?

    Our booking agents have successfully helped clients around the world secure talent like Mulatu Astatke for speaking engagements, personal appearances, product endorsements, or corporate entertainment for over 15 years. The team at All American Entertainment represents and listens to the needs of organizations and corporations seeking to hire keynote speakers, celebrities or entertainers. Fill out a booking request form for Mulatu Astatke, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to discuss your upcoming event. One of our experienced agents will be happy to help you get pricing information and check availability for Mulatu Astatke or any other celebrity of your choice.
  • HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO BOOK Mulatu Astatke?

    Booking fees for Mulatu Astatke, or any other speakers and celebrities, are determined based on a number of factors and may change without notice. Pricing often varies according to the circumstances, including the talent's schedule, market conditions, length of presentation, and the location of the event. Speaker fees listed on this website are intended to serve as a guideline only. In some cases, the actual quote may be above or below the stated range. For the most current fee to hire Mulatu Astatke, please fill out the booking request form or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to speak with an experienced booking agent.
  • WHO IS THE AGENT FOR Mulatu Astatke?

    All American Entertainment has successfully secured celebrity talent like Mulatu Astatke for clients worldwide for more than 15 years. As a full-service talent booking agency, we have access to virtually any speaker or celebrity in the world. Our agents are happy and able to submit an offer to the speaker or celebrity of your choice, letting you benefit from our reputation and long-standing relationships in the industry. Fill out the booking request form or call our office at 1.800.698.2536, and one of our agents will assist you to book Mulatu Astatke for your next private or corporate function.
  • WHAT IS A FULL-SERVICE TALENT BOOKING AGENCY?

    All American Speakers is a "buyers agent" and exclusively represents talent buyers, meeting planners and event professionals, who are looking to secure celebrities and speakers for personal appearances, speaking engagements, corporate entertainment, public relations campaigns, commercials, or endorsements. We do not exclusively represent Mulatu Astatke or claim ourselves as the exclusive booking agency, business manager, publicist, speakers bureau or management for Mulatu Astatke or any other speaker or celebrity on this website. For more information on how we work and what makes us unique, please read the AAE Advantage.
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This website is a resource for event professionals and strives to provide the most comprehensive catalog of thought leaders and industry experts to consider for speaking engagements. A listing or profile on this website does not imply an agency affiliation or endorsement by the talent.

All American Entertainment (AAE) exclusively represents the interests of talent buyers, and does not claim to be the agency or management for any speaker or artist on this site. AAE is a talent booking agency for paid events only. We do not handle requests for donation of time or media requests for interviews, and cannot provide celebrity contact information.

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Mulatu Astatke

musician

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Mulatu Astatke Biography

Mulatu Astatke (born 1943) is an Ethiopian musician and arranger best known as the father of Ethio-jazz. Born in the western Ethiopian city of Jimma, Mulatu was musically trained in London, New York City, and Boston where he combined his jazz and Latin music interests with traditional Ethiopian music. Astatke led his band while playing vibraphone and conga drums—instruments that he introduced into Ethiopian popular music—as well as other percussion instruments, keyboards and organ. His albums focus primarily on instrumental music, and Astatke appears on all three known albums of instrumentals that were released during Ethiopia's Golden ’70s.

Astatke's family sent the young Mulatu to study engineering in Wales during the late 1950s. Instead, he earned a degree in music through studies at the Welsh Lindisfarne College and then Trinity College of Music in London. In the 1960s, Astatke moved to the United States, where he became the first African student to enroll at Boston's prestigious Berklee College of Music, where he studied vibraphone and percussion. While living in the US, Astatke became interested in Latin jazz and recorded his first two albums, Afro-Latin Soul, Volumes 1 & 2, in New York City in 1966. The records prominently feature Astatke's vibraphone, backed up by piano and conga drums playing Latin rhythms, and were entirely instrumental, with the exception of the song "I Faram Gami I Faram," which was sung in Spanish. Though these records are almost indistinguishable from other Latin-jazz records of the period, some tracks foreshadow elements of Astatke's later work, and he is credited as having established conga and bongo drums as common elements in Ethiopian popular music. In the early 1970s, Astatke brought his new sound, which he called Ethio-jazz, back to his homeland while continuing to work in the US. He collaborated with many notable artists in both countries, arranging and playing on recordings by Mahmoud Ahmed, and appearing as a special guest with Duke Ellington and his band during a tour of Ethiopia in 1973. During this time, Astatke recorded another album in New York, Mulatu of Ethiopia (1972). Meanwhile, the bulk of his recorded material was being released on Amha Eshèté's eponymous Ethiopian label Amha Records in Addis Ababa, which released several Mulatu Astatke singles along with the 1974 album Yekatit Ethio-Jazz and six out of the 10 tracks on that year's Ethiopian Modern Instrumentals Hits compilation. Astatke's records appeared alongside releases by notable Ethiopian vocalists Mahmoud Ahmed, Tlahoun Gèssèssè, Alèmayèhu Eshèté, and others, all of whose music was influenced by the infusion of American jazz and Latin instrumentation that Astatke brought to Ethiopia. By 1975, Amha Records had ceased production after the Derg military junta forced the label's owner and many other Ethio-jazz luminaries to flee the country. Astatke stuck around long enough to play vibes for Hailu Mergia and the Walias Band's 1977 album Tche Belew (which featured the original classic "Musicawi Silt") before the Wallas also left Ethiopia to tour internationally. But by the 1980s, Astatke's music was largely forgotten outside of his homeland.

By the early 1990s, many record collectors had rediscovered the music of Mulatu Astatke and were combing stashes of vinyl for copies of his 1970s releases. In 1998, the Parisian record label Buda Musique began to reissue many of the Amha-era Ethio-jazz recordings on compact disc as part of the series Éthiopiques, and the first of these reissues to be dedicated to a single artist was Éthiopiques Volume 4: Ethio Jazz & Musique Instrumentale, 1969–1974, Mulatu Astatke. The album brought Astatke's music to a new international audience, perhaps the largest in his career. His Western audience expanded even further when the 2005 Jim Jarmusch film Broken Flowers featured seven of Astatke's songs, including one performed by Cambodian-American rock band Dengue Fever. National Public Radio used Astatke's instrumentals as beds under or between pieces, notably on the program This American Life. Hip hop artists have also sampled Astatke's songs extensively, samples can be heard in the works of for example Nas, Damian Marley, Kanye West, Cut Chemist, Quantic, Madlib, Oddisee, and Knaan.

Mulatu Astatke on stage with the Heliocentrics in 2009 in Rome After meeting the Massachusetts-based Either/Orchestra in Addis Ababa in 2004, Mulatu began a collaboration with the band with performances in Scandinavia in summer 2006 and London, New York, Germany, Holland, Glastonbury (UK), Dublin, and Toronto in 2008. In the fall of 2008, he collaborated with the London-based psyche-jazz collective the Heliocentrics on the album Inspiration Information Vol. 3, which included re-workings of his earlier Ethio-jazz classics with new material by the Heliocentrics and himself. In 2008, Mulatu completed a Radcliffe Institute Fellowship at Harvard University, where he worked on modernizations of traditional Ethiopian instruments and premiered a portion of a new opera, The Yared Opera. Mulatu also served as an Abramowitz Artist-in-Residence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, delivering lectures and workshops, as well as advising MIT's Media Lab on creating a modern version of the krar, a traditional Ethiopian instrument. On February 1, 2009, Mulatu Astatke performed at the Luckman Auditorium in Los Angeles with a band that included such notable jazz musicians as Bennie Maupin, Azar Lawrence, and Phil Ranelin. Mulatu also released a two-disc set to be sold exclusively to passengers of Ethiopian Airlines, with the first disc being a compilation of the different styles from different regions of Ethiopia and the second being studio originals.

FAQs on booking Mulatu Astatke

  • How to book Mulatu Astatke?

    Our booking agents have successfully helped clients around the world secure talent like Mulatu Astatke for speaking engagements, personal appearances, product endorsements, or corporate entertainment for over 15 years. The team at All American Entertainment represents and listens to the needs of organizations and corporations seeking to hire keynote speakers, celebrities or entertainers. Fill out a booking request form for Mulatu Astatke, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to discuss your upcoming event. One of our experienced agents will be happy to help you get pricing information and check availability for Mulatu Astatke or any other celebrity of your choice.
  • How much does it cost to book Mulatu Astatke?

    Booking fees for Mulatu Astatke, or any other speakers and celebrities, are determined based on a number of factors and may change without notice. Pricing often varies according to the circumstances, including the talent's schedule, market conditions, length of presentation, and the location of the event. Speaker fees listed on this website are intended to serve as a guideline only. In some cases, the actual quote may be above or below the stated range. For the most current fee to hire Mulatu Astatke, please fill out the booking request form or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to speak with an experienced booking agent.
  • Who is the agent for Mulatu Astatke?

    All American Entertainment has successfully secured celebrity talent like Mulatu Astatke for clients worldwide for more than 15 years. As a full-service talent booking agency, we have access to virtually any speaker or celebrity in the world. Our agents are happy and able to submit an offer to the speaker or celebrity of your choice, letting you benefit from our reputation and long-standing relationships in the industry. Fill out the booking request form or call our office at 1.800.698.2536, and one of our agents will assist you to book Mulatu Astatke for your next private or corporate function.
  • What is a full-service talent booking agency?

    All American Speakers is a "buyers agent" and exclusively represents talent buyers, meeting planners and event professionals, who are looking to secure celebrities and speakers for personal appearances, speaking engagements, corporate entertainment, public relations campaigns, commercials, or endorsements. We do not exclusively represent Mulatu Astatke or claim ourselves as the exclusive booking agency, business manager, publicist, speakers bureau or management for Mulatu Astatke or any other speaker or celebrity on this website. For more information on how we work and what makes us unique, please read the AAE Advantage.

Mulatu Astatke is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics . The estimated speaking fee range to book Mulatu Astatke for your event is available upon request. Mulatu Astatke generally travels from and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Ray Azcuy, Najim Azadzoi, Christopher Avery, Thomas Augst and Ali S. Asani. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling Mulatu Astatke for an upcoming event.

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Speakers Similar to Mulatu Astatke

This website is a resource for event professionals and strives to provide the most comprehensive catalog of thought leaders and industry experts to consider for speaking engagements. A listing or profile on this website does not imply an agency affiliation or endorsement by the talent.

All American Entertainment (AAE) exclusively represents the interests of talent buyers, and does not claim to be the agency or management for any speaker or artist on this site. AAE is a talent booking agency for paid events only. We do not handle requests for donation of time or media requests for interviews, and cannot provide celebrity contact information.

If you are the talent, and wish to request removal from this catalog or report an issue with your profile, please click here.

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