Yonas Gorfe

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Life and ministry

Quote from https://jazzambaschoolofmusic.org/jazzamba-founders:

“Yonas Gorfe was born and raised in Addis Ababa. He had his first music lessons from a Swedish missionary living in Entoto and learned to play the guitar, piano, violin and trumpet. Upon graduating from high school he attend Yared Music School, but was unable to complete his degree due to the political situation in the country.

He travelled instead to Finland and completed a diploma program for youth work and music. In 1991 he moved to Canada and received his degree as a recording engineer at the Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology. He then moved to Vancouver and lived there for four years working for Roger’s Cable TV and doing sound work for various tv productions.

In 1995 Yonas returned to Ethiopia with his Canadian wife and ran the music department of the Evangelical Lutheran Church Mekane Yesus, leading choirs and training choir leaders and church musicians. He also had a gospel band, AFG, which performed regularly in Addis Ababa and later in Europe.

In 2000 Yonas was involved with the re-establishment of the Mekane Yesus music program, and he played a major role in making the School of Jazz what it is today. He also taught Ethiopian music history and choir there for many years.

Yonas has also been a strong advocate for young musicians, particularly Christian musicians in their battles against the Christian establishment. His book Bet Yataw Betegna, released in April 2015 [correct date: April 2016], deals with those struggles.”


Yonas Gorfe directed the Entotto Mekane Yesus Choir for some time.


» Follow Yonas Gorfe on Facebook

» Visit Yonas Gorfe’s YouTube channel



» Watch selected music videos

Presentations and interviews

» View 2016 panel discussion on zäfän

» View interviews with / presentation by Yonas Gorfe



Further reading

Yonas Gorfe published

  • a book on secular / spiritual music (2008 A.M. [2015/16 A.D.]):

ቤት ያጣው ቤተኛ [Home, but not my home]; ሙዚቃ፣ ሙዝቀኝነትና ኢትዮጵያዊቷ ቤተ ክርስቲያን. አዲስ አበባ; ርኆቦት አሳታሚዎች.

Engl. translation:

Yonas Gorfe. Music and the Protestant Church in Ethiopia: The Controversy of Zefen and Mezmur. Transl. by Ephrem Endale and Yonas Gorfe. Addis Ababa: independently published, 2022.
[Buy kindle edition at amazon.com]