Mahmoud Ahmed is a leading contributor to Ethiopian music. Born in 1941 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Ahmed's love of music began at an early age. He listened to popular bands at the time such as the Imperial Body Guard Band. Though the variety of music was limited that did not stop him!
Ahmed found his first break in the 1970s while employed at the Arizona club. The Arizona Club was a popular night club that hosted many popular musicians of the time to come and play on a regular basis. On one occasion a local band’s lead singer never arrived, so Ahmed filled the spot and used the opportunity to play some of his early music. One track that he might have played at his first show was his 1966 creation, “Teteratershe Ende.” (Literally meaning “Are you doubtful?”)
After his golden opportunity of playing that night at a premier night club his music made a huge ripple in the community. The Arizona club took notice of his performance and offered Ahmed a permanent position until 1974. There his music spread like wildfire. This popularity was probably due to the fact that the Imperial Body Guard of Ethiopia was a guest at the club as they were frequent visitors to the club.
Once his days at the Arizona club were over Ahmed went on to tour the world mostly traveling to the United States and Europe. Through the 1980s and 1990s he toured and played for high profile people. Unfortunately recording and distributing music became difficult in Ethiopia during these times due to their political repression and dictator style of ruling. Most of the distribution Ahmed did throughout Ethiopia was through his performances of live private shows. Ahmed’s music has definitely served as a foundation for popular music in Ethiopia and has put Ethiopia on the map. Indeed, Ahmed's music is recognized as a music culture throughout the world. Ahmed has produced approximately 10 albums during the span of his career and is recognized as the most popular musician to emerge from the country. Ahmed has collaborated with many different bands in creating these 10 albums. His most notable success came about when collaborating with another well-known group from Ethiopia called the Roha Band.
Ahmed still calls Addis Ababa home and tours on a regularly. He is invited to play at many venues, and now performs with all kinds of music groups. In 2007 he was recognized by the BBC with the honor of winning the world music award. He is the only Ethiopian artist to receive such a prestigious award. Still today at the age of 69 he performs constantly and still with the liveliness and spirit that all of his fans grew to love. Here is a more recent performance of Mahmoud Ahmed playing in 2008 with the Either/Orchestra in Somerset, England at the Glastonbury Abbey. One can still sense the calmness and smoothness in his style. The jazz and funk sound still is present in the underlying sound of his more recent music even when compared to his 1966 song displayed above. The music gives off a relaxing vibe and a fun atmosphere to be involved in!
Afropop Worldwide." Afropop Worldwide. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2011. http://www.afropop.org/explore/artist_info/ID/195/Mahmoud%20Ahmed/