They sing in English, but some include Amharic songs in their repertoire. Their lyrics are serious and spotlight social conditions. Their melodies are a fusion of Ethiopian, rock and jazz beats. They attract audiences across cultural lines. Their music has universal appeal.
When I listen to these young artists, I hearken back to the observations of that querulous German priest Martin Luther who said, “Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.”
The latest to join the growing number of young Ethiopian musical artists is Tadele (Tad) Worku.
Tad’s trajectory onto the music scene is quite unusual. He attended college and earned a degree in business in 2008. He kept playing his music while in college.
Tad caught the attention of some big wigs in the American music industry. They offered to pave his way to commercial musical success and glory.
Tad thought and prayed about it. He walked away from it all without regrets. He did not want the glory or the money for himself. He wanted his work to serve the glory of God, and the poor, homeless and forgotten.
Instead of walking to the bank with a big fat check, he walked into Pacific Union College’s (PUC) nursing program carrying a tattered backpack. PUC is a destination college in the Napa Valley of California.
As Tad trained to become a nurse, he was inspired. How about using his musical talents to raise funds and awareness for the homeless, the poor and the forgotten? Tad had found a way to combine his true calling for service to humanity with his musical talents.
Going from business to nursing was a big detour, but he completed his program and set out to bring basic medical care to the least of his brethren.
Tad is the son of Prof. Adugnaw Worku, the well-known Ethiopian poet, author and musician. I have known Adu as a prodigious and prolific Ethiopia poet and author for years. He is a master of traditional Ethiopian musical instruments. I am awed by his literary and musical talents. His superb poetic recitations and performances are on Youtube. Above all, Adu is a great humanitarian. He was singularly responsible for the construction of a sizable school in Ethiopia for young people who would otherwise not have an opportunity to get a decent education.
They say “like father, like son”. Tad brings to the younger generation of Ethiopians what his father brought to my generation. Tad is a prodigious s musical talent. What is even more extraordinary is his desire to use his music in the service of humanity, the wretched of the earth, those forgotten by the rest of us.
When I first met Tad, I found it difficult to understand why a young man with such outstanding talent choose not to follow the path many musical artists before him, climb his way to the top with ease, grab his Emmy in a couple of years, perform to sell out concerts and live happily ever after.
Tad told me God had called him to go in a different direction. He told me he returned a huge check issued to him to fund a national and international music tour and produce an album. I doubt if there is another musician alive who would have turned such a rare opportunity for assured fame and fortune.
Music critics have compared Tad to John Legend and Bruno Mars. I do not know a lot about Legend or Mars. I am old school. I know Richie Havens, James Taylor and Paul Simon. Tad reminds me of them cats, as we used to say back in the 70’s.
Tad will be performing with the Oakland East Bay Symphony on Saturday February 28. By now, I suspect many people have seen his exquisitely delightful Youtube video “Me”.
Tad will be singing his new song, “Ethiopian Queen,” for the first time in public in honor of his mother.
All of the proceeds from the East Bay Symphony concert will go to support free medical, dental, and vision clinic for the homeless, the poor and the forgotten in the Oakland area.
Tad hopes to expand his medical outreach to Ethiopia and other parts of Africa. He hopes to get the support of his Ethiopian brothers and sisters.
Shakespeare wrote, “If music be the food of love, play on.” If music be the medium of service to humanity, to the least of our brothers and sisters. I say play on, Tad. Play on!
Tad’s “Love is All Concert” will take place at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, CA, on February 28 at 7:30pm.
For tickets and more information, click HERE.
CLICK HERE to view Tad’s “Thank You for Your Support” video.