Hailu Mergia is musician, a one-man band from Ethiopia, currently living in US. He is former keyboardist of Walias Band, an Ethiopian Jazz and funk band active from the early 1970s until the early 1990s.
In 1985 master accordionist and veteran bandleader/arranger/keyboardist released the Hailu Mergia and His Classical Instrument cassette. In a nostalgic effort to bring back the vintage accordion sound of his youth, Mergia gave Ethiopian music a sonic makeover. Mergia was already celebrated for his work with the groundbreaking, industry-shifting Addis Ababa ethio-jazz and funk outfit the Walias Band, he pressed forward using new tools to retool the popular sounds of the past.
Adding a Moog synthesizer, Rhodes electric piano and rhythm machine, to the rich harmonic layering of his accordion, he created elegantly arranged, hauntingly psychedelic instrumentals. These songs draw from famous traditional and modern Ethiopian songs, as Mergia brilliantly matches Amhara, Tigrinya and Oromo melodies to otherworldly flavors soaked in jazz and blues, synthesizing a lush, futuristic landscape. He balances Ethiopian music’s signature melodic shape with beautiful analog synth touches floating upon clouds of hypnotically minimal rhythm tracks.
The album Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument: Shemonmuanaye was first released in Ethiopia by Kaifa Records in 1985 on a Cassette. US label Awesome Tapes From Africa reissued this album in 2013 as LP, Cassette, CD and MP3.