Track of the Week #9: Hailu Mergia - 'Yefikir Engurguro'

Track of the Week #9: Hailu Mergia - 'Yefikir Engurguro'

Tue Jul 24th

Every week, we’ll bring you a must-hear track from the Le Guess Who? 2018 line-up. This week, it's Ethio-jazz legend Hailu Mergia with a contemplative solo piano track. Together with the Walias Band, Mergia was a guiding light in Ethiopia’s thriving nightclub scene in the 70s. 

In 1981 Hailu Mergia fled to America, becoming a cab driver in Washington D.C. Even though he didn't release albums around this time, he never stopped playing; sometimes even just toying around with a small keyboard in his car when business was slow. This was how Awesome Tapes From Africa found Hailu Mergia, when they rediscovered his music, and set out to reissue his albums. 

2018 marks the true return of the Ethiopian jazz legend: we're finally gifted a new album, 'Lala Belu'; his first in 15 years. Marking a triumphant return, the album is filled with mesmerizing jazz, funk grooves, touching accordion, and a meditative solo piano performance in the form of closing track 'Yefikir Engurguro', showing a completely new side of the musician, reflecting back on his life and that of a close friend, Ethiopian singer Tilahun Gessesse:

"'Yefikir Engurguro' means, singing about love (...) Everybody has different kinds of love in their life. Friendship, your old life, love of your country... I wrote [Yefikir Engurguro] several years ago and wanted to give a version of it with lyrics to my friend Tilahun Gessesse. He passed away eight years ago before we were able to do that, so I have a memory of him whenever I hear it too." - Hailu Mergia

Hailu Mergia performs at Le Guess Who? 2018 together with a.o. Art Ensemble of Chicago, Ebo Taylor, Devendra Banhart, Sons of Kemet XL, Anoushka Shankar, The Scorpios, Sibusile Xaba, Circuit des Yeux, Rodrigo Amarante, Vashti Bunyan, and many more. 

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