Kibrom Birhane and Etsegenet Mekonnen
From their home studio, Kibrom and Etsegenet perform a set of music that foregrounds their Ethiopian roots, while highlighting their individual and collective growth as musicians living and working in Los Angeles. The video begins with Kibrom alone, performing a song on the krar with stirring vocals in Amharic. He is soon joined by Etsegenet on guitar, and together they showcase their interpretations of Ethiopian spirituals, punctuated by mesmerizing improvisational jams. Through their interplay, the husband and wife duo show the love of two skilled musicians playing as one.
Vocals, krar, percussion, keyboard, melodica: Kibrom Birhane
Guitar: Etsegenet Mekonnen
Ethiopian-born Kibrom Birhane grew up playing music, first learning to play the krar (a five or six-stringed lyre which features in traditional Ethiopian and Eritrean music) at the age of eight. He enrolled in the Mekane Yesus School of Jazz Music in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he received a degree in music performance in 2007. Following graduation, he spent three years teaching piano at Mekane Yesus before moving to Los Angeles in 2011 to study music production and sound engineering at the Los Angeles College of Music (LACM) in Pasadena.
As an artist, the All African Music Award-winning Birhane is passionate about Ethiopian Folk, World, Jazz, Pop, Ethio Jazz and Gospel music. In addition to writing and playing his own music, he is a prolific producer, arranger, sound engineer and radio host for Coke Studio Radio Africa.
He has recorded and performed with musicians from all over the world, including Dan Wilson, Mychael Danna, K’Naan, Ethio Cali, Wondem, Quantic, and Meklit Hadero, among others.
Etsegenet Mekonnen was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where her love of music and singing were fostered from an early age. She studied guitar performance at the Mekane Yesus School of Jazz in Addis Ababa before moving to Los Angeles to study at the Los Angeles College of Music (LACM) in Pasadena in 2011.
Since graduating from LACM in 2013, Etsegenet has continued to expand her sound, which incorporates traditional Ethiopian music, Jazz, and Modern rock flourishes. She has released two albums to date—her debut full-length Yimetal in 2013 and her EP Alpha and Omega in 2019. Both albums feature Etsegenet’s mellifluous voice with lyrics sung in Amharic layered over anthemic pop hooks.
She has performed and collaborated with musicians from all over the world, including Mychael Danna, Zap Mama, Wondem, Sal Masekela, and Sunny Levine. In 2013, she appeared in Pharrell Williams’ music video for the hit single “Happy.” Notable live performances include venues and festivals across Los Angeles and the U.S., such as the Ford Amphitheatre, Grand Park, the Broad Stage, the Joshua Tree Music Festival and the Bonnaroo Music Festival, among others.