While receiving treatment at Adama General Hospital, Dr. Ali Birra, an Ethiopian musician well renowned for his legendary Oromo songs, passed away yesterday. On Wednesday in the hospital, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had a meeting with the ill multi-talented artist. Together with first lady Zinash Tayachew and region president of Oromia Regional State Shimelis Abdissa, the PM paid a visit to the artist.
Ali Mohammed Musa, a 1947-born resident of Dire Dawa City, started playing music at the age of 13 when he joined the Afran Qallo band. As a result of singing the song “Birra dha Barihe,” he eventually acquired the stage moniker “Ali Birra,” which in Oromifa means “Ali the spring.”
According to MusicInAfrica, Ali recorded the first Oromo album in history when he put out his debut in 1971. Then he released hit songs including “Hin Yaadin,” “Asabalee,” “Ammalelee,” and “Gamachu.” His CDs featured Harari songs like “Yidenqal” and Sudanese songs like “Al-Habib Ween.” In a 2016 interview for the travel book Culture Trip, he discussed his musical philosophy and said: “I believe in little incremental modifications to my music while being truthful to its beginnings.”
He continued, “I have attempted to apply new technology tools while honouring the past. Ali claimed that his study of music in the US had improved his ability to “better analyze music and its scales.” The musician claimed, “At the same time, I can play numerous different instruments. Many aspiring musicians today specialize on singing or play just one instrument.
The iconic artist was awarded an honorary doctorate in music in 2010 by Jimma University in recognition of his exceptional performances and distinctive compositions with universally resonant meanings. Ali, a singer, composer, and poet, would mark his 60th anniversary in the country of East Africa’s music industry the following year.