#Noticias

Awesome Tapes From Africa honra a la musa etíope Asnakech Worku

“She had a style when she smoked, the way she took the cigarette in her fingers, it was an art. Her hair was so beautiful, long hair. Asnakech? Forget it, man”.

05.09.18
Antoni Ripoll

Cuesta introducir la figura de Asnakech Worku sin caer en la veneración. Compositora, actriz, bailarina e icono cultural de la Etiopía de segunda mitad del siglo XX, Asnakech inspiró y desafió a la sociedad durante décadas, hasta su muerte en 2011.

Desde sus comienzos como la primera actriz de teatro de Etiopía en 1952 (anteriormente los papeles femeninos se interpretaban por hombres caracterizados de mujeres) hasta sus días como propietaria de su mítico club en Adís Abeba, no dejó de recibir elogios de todo el espectro artístico.

Con un singular sentido del estilo, de la moda y un sex appeal inusual en esas coordenadas escpacio-tiempo, Asnakech dejó una huella imborrable en la Etiopía de la época.

En lo musical, Asnakech se convirtió en una de las grandes intérpretes internacionales de krar, un arpa tradicional etíope, abanderando una escena y visibilizando un instrumento de forma global. Todo ello mientras dejaba controversia, corazones rotos y un nuevo paisaje cultural a su paso.

En 1975, el pianista y director de orquesta etíope Hailu Mergia recibió una llamada para grabar con Asnakech y no lo dudó. El resultado es “Asnakech”, una pieza casi olvidada de la que apenas se plancharon copias en su momento.

Ha tenido que ser Awesome Tapes From Africa —una vez más— quien se encargue de rescatar del olvido esta pieza indispensable de la cultura popular etíope donde se dan la mano dos de las figuras más singulares y a la vez imprescindibles de su contexto. Además del talento vocal de Asnakech, es una buena oportunidad de comprobar la habilidad de Mergia como arreglista en la escena de Adís Abeba.

La nueva edición remasterizada de “Asnakech” verá la luz el próximo 2 de noviembre y será la primera vez que el disco salga de su país de origen. De momento podemos escuchar un corte, “Tche Belew”:

Pero esto no es todo. Esta edición de “Asnakech” viene acompañada de fotos familiares inéditas de la misma Asnakech, así como de notas personales tomadas por Hailu Mergia que relatan su experiencia personal con la musa. En el Bandcamp de Awesome Tapes From Africa podemos leer algunas:

Asnakech had a club uptown—in Dejach Wube area, a popular part, there were a bunch of clubs. It was the late 1950s in the Ethiopian calendar, so probably the mid-1960s. I saw her there for the first time, not in the theater. She used to perform for friends there, sometimes we stayed there after hours. She would play krar. Back then she was very young, haha. Whatever you would request, she would play, many traditional songs, solo. Sometimes some guys would come there and play with her.

Someone took me there just to have fun. I was not a known guy back then, she was a famous lady. So I introduced myself but I was just a fan. I knew her name but hadn’t seen her but I’d heard her music on the radio. She said, “Oh you’re a new guy, good for you,” the kind of supporting things she usually said to a young musician. After that, when I used to play in Zula club or next door to her club at Patrice Lumumba club (Acegedech Nightclub), she used to come and dance with her friends once in a while.

After so many years, in the mid 1970s, the owner of this music store contact me and he told me that he is planning to have a cassette with Asnakech. So I made a handshake deal and we started the recording.

I’m proud that I played with her, that we did this album. It’s nice to play with somebody you admire, to be able to say, I played with Asnakech when she was great. She was a very polite person, always talking good about other people. In particular, to me she was a very modern lady. If you’re not a dead person your heart is gonna beat, young or old, when you see that lady dressing, any kind of dress western dress or traditional dress. She was a modern lady, dressed in the latest designer dresses, more than anyone else back then. Oh! That lady was different. She was a dancer and an actress. At the same time she was very beautiful and everybody talked about her. She had a style when she smoked, the way she took the cigarette in her fingers, it was an art. Her hair was so beautiful, long hair. Asnakech? Forget it, man”.

Hace poco menos de una semana hablamos Brian Shimkovitz, label manager de Awesome Tapes From Africa. Puedes leer la entrevista aquí.