The YouTube video opens with an image of a young man and woman standing with their bicycles with industrial brick building background. Images of a Borena chief, traditional dishes, injera, and multicolored mounds of spicy stews follow. The soundtrack begins with a brief electric guitar and percussion intro, and then a vibrato floats into the arrangement. The scenes begin to shift between the singer and other dancers in brightly colored dresses and shifting to energetically passionate dance. The video, produced by Mira Thiruchelvam, includes vibrant and mesmerizing visual, exuberant beats of bamboo flute, Congas guitar, Cajon, and full of infectious ancestral dance rhythms all combined in just under five minutes.
The song is called “Hawanawa,” and the singer is Gutu Abera, a 28-year-old social worker based in Norway. “Hawanawa” has attracted more than 317,619 views since it was uploaded on February 19. It’s also elicited more than 2,173 comments from fans around the world.
Now, it’s time to get to know him a little better.
Gutu was born in Mendi, West Welega, Oromia region. As a child, he displayed a passion for singing, he told BBC Amharic. Twelve years ago, he moved to Norway to join his family, settling in Bergen, the second-largest city of the Scandinavian country. Since then, he did his first degree in social work and anthropology.
Gutu experienced many of his musical influences there and in 2013 he joined the music band called Fargespill, where he honed his skills, especially focusing on fusion music. This allowed him to connect with many young people and score collaborations with immigrant artists based in Norway. He brought the TV audience to tears when singing for the Norwegian King Harald’s and Queen Sonja’s as they celebrated the 25th anniversary of their ascension to the throne.
The singer cites Ali Birra and Alemayehu Eshete as his influences and he says the current Ethiopian musical scene lacks the vigor and gaiety of the 70s and 80s. “I believe there is a lot to do and by collaborating with good musicians, it is possible to create new things,” he told the BBC.
While employed as a social worker during his working hours, the artist is using his spare time to work on his album, which he said is set to arrive at end of this year or next year and features both this new song and his new track.