Selam Seyoum Woldemariam

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From Wikipedia article “Selam Woldemariam” (January 2023):

“Selam Seyoum Woldemariam (born 10 June 1954), also known as Selamino, is an Ethiopian-born Eritrean musician and guitarist. He has turned out 250 albums in his more than forty years as a professional musician. He has been called “The Jimi Hendrix of Ethiopia” and is a national legend. […]

Selam Seyoum Woldemariam was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1954 to a director-teacher, Seyoum Woldemariam Kidane, and an assistant teacher-housewife, Tsirha Nemariam. While in Ethiopia, his father worked in a school run by American missionaries [Q: Christian Training Institute (later: Light of Life Girls’ School)?]. The family owned an acoustic guitar, and while each of his siblings tried to learn, he was the most disciplined in his musical study. He was 10 or 11 years old when he went to Asmara with his family [1964/65].

During the mid-1960s, Woldemariam formed a church music quintet choir group in Asmara at Geza Kenisha, which became popular and pulled hundreds of followers to the church where they performed. Later, they included a Swedish drummer but the sound eventually became too noisy for the elderly congregation and they had to discontinue playing. Woldemariam moved to Addis Ababa in 1972 and finished high school. […]

He joined The Black Soul Band while they were on tour in Addis Ababa in 1973. […] Towards mid-1974, Woldemariam and some other members of Black Soul Band joined the Venus Club. After working for a year or so at the Venus Club, Woldemariam replaced Zimbabwean Ibex Band guitar player Andrew Wilson at the Ras Hotel. […] Ibex disbanded in 1979 as most of its members left for the Sudan, while Mahmoud left for the US. The remaining three members, Giovanni Rico, Fekadu Andemeskel and Selam Woldemariam, formed ROHA Band. […]

During 2000, Woldemariam moved to the US, and started collaboration on the Power of The Trinity project with the Brooklyn-based Tomas Doncker Band. Besides co-writing and playing guitar on some tunes, Woldemariam is also involved as a production consultant. […] Woldemariam is in the process of expanding his thesis paper on Ethiopian music and gathering together a book based on his over forty years of experience in music.”

From an interview published by the Eritrean Ministry of Information in August 2011:

“While I was in Addis, my father used to work in a school run by missionaries. They brought various records of spiritual songs that all students were required to sing so. Upright pianos were the main instruments. My siblings and I used to study some of the songs and sang them at the Mekane Yesus Church in Addis Abeba. We also owned an acoustic guitar at home and practically all of us tried to play it but I took it seriously the most.”


(2) _ _ _ [_ _ _; In memory of Tekle Tesfazghi]. Album released in 1995.

(3) Grace: Best of Ibex/Roha Bands. Album released in 2020.


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»  Visit “Selamino_Ibex_Roha SIR” YouTube channel


» Check and listen to music


published in 2013:


Documentation & interviews

On “Power of the Trinity [Haile Selassie]” project, published in 2012:



radio interview with Berhanu Digaffe, part 1:

part 2:


Further reading

Selam Seyoum. The Origin and Development of Zemenawi Music in Ethiopia 1896-1974. B.A. thesis, Addis Ababa University: Department of History, 1988.

“A Moment With a Living Legend of Eritrean Music,” Interview with Selam Seyoum published by Eritrean Ministry of Information, August 14, 2011. [Online,]

Shelemay, Kay Kaufman. Sing and Sing On: Sentinel Musicians and the Making of the Ethiopian American Diaspora. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press, 2022. [esp. p. 114-16, 259-60; Google Books; Storymap]