Aster Aweke is an Ethiopian popular singer who is an icon in the Ethiopian music industry. She now has more than 250 songs and has so far released 26 albums, including her greatest hits album, Hagere (1999), and her latest, Fikir (2006). She is especially known for her emotive voice and her style of singing ballads in a mix of Tizita. Moreover, she is regarded as Ethiopia’s pop music diva and is arguably the most famous female singer in Ethiopia. Aster Aweke, now one of the most well-known singers in the nation, is even listed as the best Ethiopian singer of all time thanks to the wider public appeal of her voice. Aster’s songs never get old and they are still popular among young audiences. Aster’s success has helped Ethiopia’s music industry immensely and inspired other young female artists to take up the microphone.
Aster Aweke was born in Gondar on March 5, 1960, to Ethiopian parents. As a young child, she eventually relocated to Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. Although no details are known about her parents, her father was a senior official in Haile Selassie’s imperial government. As a teenager, the Ethiopian superstar started performing in front of audiences.
Aster Aweke fell in love with music at a very early age. It didn’t take her long to decide to be a musician. However, her parents didn’t approve and weren’t entirely convinced that it was a wise decision. She chose to join Addis Ababa’s Hager Fiker Theater at the age of just thirteen. She successfully joined the theater after performing Bezunesh Bekele’s song as part of her audition. Accordingly, she started her music career there as a dancer and vocalist. Aster’s performances at Hager Fikir helped launch her later career and helped her gain public recognition.
Beginning in 1976, Aster gave performances in clubs and hotels in the city’s capital in her late teens with bands like the Continental Band, Hotel D’Afrique Band, Shebele Band, and Ibex Band. Aster then released 11 incredibly well-received cassettes for the local market over the next five years, becoming well-known in Ethiopia.
However, she moved to the USA in 1981, first going to Oakland, California, to study English and typing. But two years later, she relocated to Washington, DC, where she quickly started singing in the many Ethiopian-owned bars and restaurants there. Later on, Aster Aweke was invited by Iain Scott of the London-based world music label Triple Earth to record her international debut in 1988 after he accidentally heard one of her Ethiopian cassettes. This marked the beginning of a musical career that Aweke has successfully pursued ever since.
In 1989, she released her debut album, Aster, on CBS Records, kicking off her career in the music industry. Jazz, soul, and gospel elements were combined with Ethiopian musical traditions on Aster’s debut album, which featured musicians from the UK and Ethiopia. Kabu then followed in 1991, which also gained her many fans.
Aster Aweke quickly rose to fame in Ethiopia as a musical icon, which opened the door to lucrative performances on radio, television, and at concerts. Aster’s fame led to invitations to appear on a number of radio and television programs, including the renowned Night Music on the NBC television network, where she made an appearance as a special guest.
Aster made her first trip back to Ethiopia after leaving for the USA in 1997. She quickly established herself as a major star in her native country, performing to larger audiences at a number of concerts in Addis Ababa. She entertained a crowd of more than 50,000 people in the country’s capital. Aster also gave a two-part concert series in 2003 to raise money for relief and educational projects in Ethiopia. Aster never stopped making music; she continued to release sensational albums, including her latest album, Chewa (2019).