Neway Debebe & Roha Band (Ethiopia): Mix 1988 - 1988/Ethiopian Traditional Music/African Music/World
The establishment of “The Roha Band” draws upon heavily or has a strong relation with the fall outs from the wind down and disintegration of the Ibex and Dahlak bands. Members of these two bands recollect that the reasons for the dissolution of the two bands have to do with the emigration of band members to the Sudan and the US leaving a serious vacuum of skill in the bands.
The Roha Band took it’s name from the historic town of Lalibela. The founding members of the band were Giovanni Rico (Bass guitar), Selam Seyoum (Lead guitar), Fekade Made Meskel (Tenor Sax), all these three hail from Ibex Band and those who joined the Roha Band after the disintegration of the Dahlak Band were Dawit Yifru (Key board and music arranger), Levon Fondachi (vocalist), Tekle Tesfazgi (drummer and vocalist joined the Roha Band leaving their private activities. After the band begun its work, it soon realized that it needed an additional skill and resources. This resulted in the second wave of outsourcing which brought Yonas Degefe (saxophone) and Elias Bekele, Berhanu Yoseph and Ashenafi Awel (both drummers) as well as Yared Teferra (saxophone) in to the fold of the band.
The startup was difficult specially in terms of capital and musical instruments. Thus, the former Ibex Band members brought the musical instruments they got upon the dissolution of the band to use them in their new band assignments. The band also secured a loan of Birr 40,000.00 from Ato Abeselom Yihdego for the purchase of additional instruments. This well known philanthropist thereby left a deep sense of gratitude in the memory of the band member’s to date. In fact, the man is known for a helping hand he extends from time to time to those engaged in the activities of music and sports.
The beginnings of the Roha Band were pretty humble and it remains a relative unknown for some time. It was affiliated to the Hilton and Ghion hotels, not a great way to reach the wider public other than the small number of customers of these hotels. The band’s introduction to the public rather came through its involvement in the recording industry where it accompanied and engaged in music arrangement. It benefited nearly all of the best known vocalists of the country both veteran and emerging talents. With this the fame of the band sky rocketed. The skill of the members was phenomenal, their rythems and arrangements were electrifying. The name Roha Band became synonymous with an paralled musical talent and it was the number one preference for a singer who contemplates an album release.
Its excellence is such that music lovers never mind to buy cassettes even those released complete stranger if it is accompanied by the Roha Ban and produced by the Ambassel Recordings. The two brands offer a guarantee through quality. The legacy of the Roha Band has influenced the music industry in some other ways. For instance, usually it is the singer or the vocalist that takes the lion’s share of the admiration and fame after a successful release. The public never asks about the band accompanying the singer. There is no doubt the Roha Band’s influence changed this in drawing the attention of the public to the bands behind the fame and glory of singers.
Among the focalists in whose releases the Roha Band took part (both in accompanying and music arrangement) were Mahmoud Ahmed, Tehome Wolds, Muluken Melesse, Alemayehu Eshete, Melkamu Tebeje, Kuku Sebsbie, Hamelmal Abate, Neway Debebe, Tsehate, Yohannes and many many others.
Besides its regular engagement at the Hilton and Ghion hotels, the band also took part in several musical tours with the vocalists it accompanied. It’s tours took it to towns like Asmara, Assab, Massawa, Mekele, Bahar Dar, Jimma, Dire Dawa, Awassa, Nazareth e.t.c. More info found here (http://ethiomusicians.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=14:roha-band&catid=4:zema-mahlet&Itemid=13)