Girum Gizaw was born with guitar strings beating to the sound of his heart. He grew up with a love for music which replaced a family he did not know while in boarding school. At 11 he put the sounds he grew up loving, while listening to his cousin and older brother play in the school choir, to the test. The footsteps of his older sibling he followed led him to experiment with the Tizeta minor sound very early on during his teens. His attachment to the instrument led him to volunteer for the choir and stay closer to the sounds of the guitar and music. Time well spent experimenting with his guitar allowed him to have natural relationship with the sounds his fingers gently stroke from his guitar which he managed to perfect with passionate practice. Added to his motivation a few classes with guidance helped him develop a flawless grip of the guitar. With enough confidence and experience, Girum formed a band of young aspiring artists that became their school’s favorite entertainment at the concerts they put together.
Having grown up not only playing but knowing the guitar inside-out has given Girum’s sound a distinct melody. Girum’s musical lab experiments developed his skills of translating various tribes, ethnic groups and cultures into what later became his signature sound. In this ever globalizing world, Girum’s musical vision of creating unity in diversity has taken his work to another level. His original interpretation of African languages and dialects creates a mystical one of a kind sound though unfamiliar remains unforgettable, as they take listeners on a journey throughout the continent.
In all of his musical adventures, Girum seems to always land on a specific melody that takes root in the southern parts of Ethiopia. The natural inclination of his ears to the south was inspired by Mulatu Astetke’s, known as the ‘Father of Ethio-Jazz’ regular encouragement. The many conversations between the musicians fed wood to the burning furnace of Girum’s passion for music and pushed him towards finding his own techniques. Girum was not only encouraged to dare being different but more importantly to discover the sounds that spoke entirely Girum’s musical languages. Once Girum’s path was defining itself through the sounds that echoed through his instrument and his guitar played to the pulse that beat with his guitar, he performed on stage with Mulatu Astatke.
Just as the best only learn from the best, Girum aspired from a young age to be like the ones he grew up listening to, his youthful inspirations. Little did he know he was paving his way to become like Charlie Parker, Duke Elington, Monk, Wes Montogemy among many others he looked up to. Every pathway has its ups and downs and so did Girum’s musical journey. Like the many greatness achieving musicians, Girum overcame the obstacles to reach these heights. His biggest achievement was the founding of the Meleket band 8 years ago after having been a part of many pop bands in town for extra cash. Meleket band became the jewel that Girum dreamt of creating especially after his first band known as Blue note disintegrated 6 months following its beginning.
Witnessing his dreams crumbling before his eyes had made Girum a hard worker and made him determined to attain his lifelong goals. It was that determination that pushed to meet with two of his closest friends and start a new band, known to this day as the Meleket band. It is commonly said that things happen for a reason and indeed the Meleket band is still gracing the many Jazzy stages of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with their unique performances.
Girum has since then taken on various projects, one of which is known as the Street Jazz Concerts by the Godjo Trio band he formed with two of the most re-known musicians in town, Henok Temesgen and Natnael Tessema. The Street Jazz project lasted for 6 months in the hopes of giving, those without the means and possibilities, access to the delightful jazzy sounds our world has to offer. Moreover, the Godjo Trio organized music workshops for underprivileged schools all over the country and spread the possibility of music to rural areas by introducing them to various instruments.
Girum recently released his first album entitled ‘Color’ which just as its name implies reflects different shades of languages and cultures through sound. He took it upon himself to mix 4 different musical styles, instruments and traditions in the album to reflect the various dimensions of the traditions from the sounds in the tracks. The third track from his album entitled ‘Color’ especially reveals the experimental sounds he has always wanted to portray and is the perfect mirror of the various shades of the sounds contained in the entire album. Girum Gizaw is unstoppable though, he has just recently formed a band for the sole promotion of his album called ‘Girum Gizaw Quartet’ which is allowing him to reveal all of his original work thus unleashing his full potential as a jazz-musician.

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