A very rare jazz album from a legendary Ethiopian artist is now a lot easier to get a hold of. Hailu Mergia, who’s lived in the DC area for years, debuted “Tezeta” in 1975 with the Walias Band. The nine-song album was originally released on cassette and has been difficult to track down. But on Friday, the record label Awesome Tapes From Africa reissued a remastered version of “Tezeta”—meaning fans can now simply download it.
Hailu Mergia & the Walias Band were a huge influence on modern Ethiopian music. The group went on tour in the U.S. in 1981, performing mostly for Ethiopian refugees. However, they split after four band members opted not to go back to Ethiopia, which was under a military regime at time.
The four members, including Mergia, continued to release music under a new name, Zula Band. Mergia studied music at Howard University and worked as a taxi driver near Dulles airport. As he drove passengers around, he would jam out to his old songs, which increased the popularity of Zula Band within Washington.
You can buy “Tazeta” digitally for $9. Physical copies have already sold out.