Film

Roaring Abyss: A Documentary Chronicling The Diverse And Ancient Sounds Of Ethiopia

This film presents sounds you may not have heard before in Ethiopia.

Yayne Abeba singing a Tizita. Photo by Gonzalo Guajardo.


Ethiopia’s music scene is known for it’s distinctive genre of Ethio-Jazz, a blend of western musical sounds, Armenian introduced brass instruments, and Ethiopia’s traditional folk and religious music. Most focus on Ethiopian music highlights the country's modern musical output, music that utilizes keyboards, synthesizers, and drum machines.

Roaring Abyss, a documentary and “audiovisual poem” directed by Quino Piñero, endeavored to bring to light the dizzyingly diverse array of music being sung and played throughout a country where approximately 80 languages are spoken and 90 million people call home. From the country's highlands to grasslands, Roaring Abyss sought and found traditional Ethiopian music, passed down for generations, being kept alive.

The Roaring Abyss team traveled Ethiopia for two years. The team, employing an audiophile approach, documented and recorded musicians from across the country and their stories. The beautiful music that is captured in the film is deeply moving and spiritual. The music’s ancient past reverberates and bounces off the traditional instruments played, such as the Krar (a five or six stringed lyre), Washint (type of flute), Masenqo (single stringed bowed lute) and Kebero (double headed drum with animal skin stretched over making it a membranophone).

Roaring Abyss is Piñero’s directorial debut. In addition to filmmaking, Piñero, who is Spanish, is a sound engineer and music producer. Piñero also started SolySombra Recordings, a record company.

The documentary made its premiere this past October in Budapest at Womex15. It has also been screened at the Athens Ethnofest 2015, International Film Festival Rotterdam 2016, Film Fest DC 2016, the Somerville Theatre in Boston and others.

Catch Roaring Abyss today, April 18, at the Film Fest DC in Washington, D.C. Get your tickets here.

Peep these two trailers for Roaring Abyss and be on the lookout for news about upcoming screenings near you.

 

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Former UN Secretary General and Nobel Peace Laureate, Kofi Annan, Has Died

The celebrated Ghanaian humanitarian and the first black African to serve as head of the UN, passed away on Saturday at the age of 80.

Kofi Annan, the seventh UN Secretary General and Nobel Peace Laureate, passed away on Saturday morning following a brief illness. "His wife Nane and their children Ama, Kojo and Nina were by his side during the last days," read a family statement. He was 80.

Annan was the first black African to serve as head of the United Nations, holding the prestigious position from 1997 to 2006. He was lauded for his global humanitarian work, eventually earning Annan and the UN a Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for "their work for a better organized and more peaceful world."

Annan was head of the UN during the onslaught of the Iraq War, proving to be one of the most challenging global events to occur under his time as Secretary General and one of the most divisive of the early 21st century. "I think the worst moment of course was the Iraq war, which as an organization we couldn't stop—and I really did everything I can to try to see if we can stop it," he said in 2006.

Annan was also the founder of the Kofi Annan foundation and chairman of The Elders, an international humanitarian organization of global leaders founded by Nelson Mandela.

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Janet Jackson Returns With Afrobeats-Inspired Song & Video 'Made For Now' Featuring Daddy Yankee

The icon's latest is a nod to the sound, fashion and culture of the diaspora.

Ms. Jackson is back.

The iconic artist returns with her first single since the release of her 2015 album Unbreakable, and it's a timely nod to the "made for now" influence of afrobeats fashion, sound and culture.

On "Made For Now," which features Puerto Rican reggaeton titan Daddy Yankee, Janet Jackson does what she's done successfully so many times throughout her decades-long career: provide an infectious, party-worthy tune that's fun and undeniably easy to dance to. "If you're living for the moment, don't stop," Jackson sings atop production which fuses dancehall, reggaeton and afrobeats.

The New York-shot music video is just as lively, filled with eye-catching diasporic influences, from the wax-print ensembles and beads both Janet and her dancers wear to the choreographed afrobeats-tinged dance numbers, which see the dancers hitting the Shoki at one point in the video. The train of dancers travel throughout the streets of Brooklyn, taking over apartment buildings and rooftops with spirited moves.

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Audio

You Need to Hear Juls' New Single 'Saa Ara'


New hip-hop and highlife grooves from the celebrated UK-based Ghanaian producer.

By merging the diverse influence of growing up in Accra and East London, Juls has managed to cultivate a hybrid afrobeats style that has set him apart from the rest.

For his latest single, "Saa Ara," he teams up with award-winning rapper Kwesi Arthur and gifted lyricist Akan.

The brilliant fusion of vintage highlife instrumentals and booming hip-hop beats, along with Kwesi Arthur's lively chorus and Akan's fiery delivery gives the song a very spiritual and classical feel.

Soothe your soul this weekend with these tasteful sounds from Juls.

Listen to "Saa Ara" by Juls featuring Kwesi Arthur and Akan below.

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