Hometown: Alemaya, Ethiopia
Web site: http://www.nashuva.com/band_07.html
View World Music Days Events for this Artist
Alula was born in a small village in Ethiopia called Alemaya which means: “a place where you can see the world.” Alula’s mother was Jewish and his father was Christian. Tzadik was taken at birth from his mother because of her religion and did not know he was Jewish for the longest time. Alula was teased by kids and elders at the Christian orphanage. But Tzadik never forgot his mother. He found her, and lived with her learning Hebrew songs and prayers.
Alula’s music is an expression of the many disparate strands of his life. His songs have Hebrew, Amharic, Latin and German musical influences overlaid by American hip-hop and reggae. He speaks eight languages and sings in over ten. Alula also plays twelve musical instruments including the piano, guitar, bass, drums, harmonica and kirrar, a harp-like instrument that dates back to the time of King David.
Alula became a pop star sensation in Ethiopia in the mid-’80s with the hit song "Sentahehu," named after his original Jewish first name, and the name of his son. After his song hit big, Tzadik landed in prison for a year for playing a song at his concerts called "Mr. President," which was taken to be a protest against Communist dictator Mengistu. Tzadik went free in 1991, when the Communist government was overthrown in a coup d’état.
Fearing that he would be jailed again, Alula left Ethiopia by foot to Sudan, then continued to Egypt and flew to Washington, D.C. He lived in New York and in Berkeley before coming to Los Angeles.
Alula says his transition to life in this country was quite easy. While he had no trouble fitting into American society as a Jew, it was a little different for him as an African.
“As a Jew, actually not, because you know nobody could see my faith, but everybody could see my face. So you know, sure, in America there’s this black and white thing, you have to accept that, there’s a differentiation. But with faith, though, nobody could see what I am, so I had no problem.”
Alula continues to write songs and even scored "God and Allah Need to Talk," an interfaith-themed movie. He shows his gratitude for the freedom he enjoys as an American Jew with a monthly mitzvah, performing for Jewish inmates and recovering alcoholics. He also loves playing on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.