A Fifty Year Journey For The Love of Music and His People - Ali Birra: Ali Birra' s Autobiography

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9781491099179: A Fifty Year Journey For The Love of Music and His People - Ali Birra: Ali Birra' s Autobiography

The idea for this project was first suggested to Mohammed Hassen by Lily Marcos-Birra , the devoted wife and the best friend of Ali Birra probably about a year ago. What was planned at that stage was to prepare a short biographical information about the legendary Oromo singer for his Golden Jubilee anniversary celebration on musical stage. That event, which will mark Ali Birra's 50th anniversary celebration since he started singing in 1963, will be held in Minneapolis on July 4, 2013. Although the plan for the project had a gestation period of several months, the work on the project commenced with earnestness only in May 2013. With Dr. Gemechu Megerssa's contribution and two additional previously published articles, and two short reviews of Ali Birra's music by Rick Sanders and Blogfoolk magazine. The project expanded beyond brief biographical information. The project now has five short chapters and two review articles. It is a very modest beginning for encouraging others to write more substantial work about Ali Birra, his long productive musical career and his huge contribution for putting Oromo music on musical map of the world. As a project which was prepared under intense pressure of time, we did not have the luxury of time for carefully proof-reading more than once all contributions. If we had an opportunity to proof-read all contributions more than once, probably we would have eliminated or reduced possible typos and other errors. We apologize if there are errors. We are deeply indebted to Matt Knowles, Andreas Hansen and Rick Sanders for giving us the permission to include their excellent articles in this project. We express our sincere gratitude for Francis Falceto and Buda Musique for producing Ethiopiques 28. This production has truly garnered excellent reviews not only from the Oromo communities but also from the international audience. As the result of their production they put Oromo music where it rightfully deserves to be, part of the world music, ending the long neglect in which Oromo music found itself for decades. We have been very fortunate to have friends and colleagues who contributed to the completion of this project in one way or the other. We thank Catherine Jimbo Odari, a PhD student at Georgia State University, for typing the articles of Matt Knowles and Andreas Hansen. We thank our dear friend Dr. Gemechu Megerssa not only for his contribution but also for his participation in Ali Birra's Golden Jubilee with us in Minneapolis. Dr. Gemechu Megerssa has been Ali Birra's life-long close friend. We were deeply touched by quick responses of Taha Ali Abdi and Assefa Tefera Dibaba( a PhD student at Indiana University) for their translations of some of the lyrics of Ali Birra songs into English texts. We are indebted to Jawar Mohammed and Arfasse Gemeda of Columbia University for their help with this project. We owe big debt of gratitude to our friend, Elias Ibssa, who took the full responsibility for type-setting and printing this project and making it ready for the day of celebration. We thank all those who are involved behind the scene in organizing Ali Birra's 50th anniversary. Finally, we owe profound debt of gratitude to our dear friend Ali Birra, who always made us laugh, while answering all our questions about his life and musical journey. Information from our long interviews with Ali Birra formed the basis for crafting chapter one. His interviews are also quoted generously in chapter two. We share the happiness with Ali Birra for celebrating his Golden Jubilee. We are looking forward to it with great excitement. Mohammed Hassen and Lily Marcos-Birra

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