My first attempt was by accident. I prepared steak with bearnaise for a small crowd of new friends and played the soundtrack to the 2005 indie film, Broken Flowers, for its eclectic, syncopated sounds.

It sounded like this:

My Ethiopian guests were impressed with my appreciation for Ethiopian jazz!

Mulatu Astatke is generally regarded as the king of Ethiopian Jazz. Born in 1943 in Ethiopia, he studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1958. There he developed his signature brand of jazz, a combination of traditional Ethiopian melodies with saxophones and the like.

As Ethiopia emerged from Italian occupation, concurrent with the end of World War II, Emperor Haile Selassie focused on modernizing education, transportation and infrastructure.

At a time when much of the rest of Africa was beginning to seek independence from its colonial rulers, Ethiopia had a head start, which enabled a burgeoning creative city center.

Into the 1960s, its capital Addis Ababa experienced an awakening of urban architecture, music and culture, influenced by international names from Frank Lloyd Wright to Duke Ellington.

To experience it for yourself , I suggest my mid-century Ethiopian dinner party playlist on Spotify. Serve it with an old-fashioned.

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About Ashley Alemayehu

Ashley grew up in Wichita Falls, Texas. She studied the liberal arts and law, and enjoys writing, painting and cooking. She is married into an Ethiopian family and dedicates this blog to sharing their story.


Culture, History


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